NCAA and the Plight of the College Football "Student"-Athlete
With the recent scandals plaguing college football, it seems everyone wants to be the first to figure out a way to solve the problem. But, of course, in solving a problem one has to figure out how it began in the first place.
Some will blame the rulebook saying that the rules are too confusing and are even a little archaic. Others will blame the kids. They knew the rules and therefore they should be held accountable. And then, there's that other group—the group that blames the people who cash the checks and don't want to share.
College football is a multi-billion dollar machine complete with tradition, respect, pretty colors and people running around in furry costumes. You know, I used to choose college over the pros. Luckily, I had a friend who was very persuasive. But my entire reason behind staying away from Sunday football was simply this: It's all about the money.
In all this time of controversy and distrust in a broken system, I have never once felt sorry for the players. Now, that may seem a little insensitive of me, but I just can't help myself.
Every year, your average 17- or 18-year-old embarks on a new part of their lives. They're off leaping out into this brave new world just waiting to fulfill their hopes and dreams. If they're lucky they do well in school, graduate within four years and maybe if they've worked hard enough during those four years they'll land an entry-level job making just enough to pay the bills.
Around this same time, there's another group of 17- or 18-year-olds. On the outside, it looks like they're about to head out on a similar journey. They're excited about fulfilling hopes and dreams, except these dreams look slightly different.
If they're lucky they do well on the field, they don't blow out their knee and maybe if they've worked hard enough during this time they'll land a multi-million dollar contract making just enough to retire by the time they're 35.
Don't get me wrong—I love college football. The emotion, the passion, the sheer excitement of it makes me feel like on any given Saturday I could suffer a brain aneurysm and be OK with it as long as my team won.
The problem isn't the money. Every sportswriter or ESPN robot will tell you that these players deserve a stipend. "They're watching everyone else make money and they want it to."
No, they're watching everyone else make money and they want it now. They want the money, the fame, the glory and everything else that comes with people caring about which hat they're going to pull out of a bag.
Who knew watching somebody sign a piece of paper could make for such riveting television?
And I get it, a lot of you right now can't wait to trash me and tell me that I'm completely off the mark, jealous or just all-around nuts. And you might be right. I'm sitting here blogging at 3 a.m. with nothing better to do. So, yeah.
I have no issue with these kids taking money and living like the superstars they are. My biggest problem lies in the fact that they want it all and that is where you have to draw the line.
We're raised to believe that an education is important, but if your kid runs a 4.3 40-yad dash, the last thing you're thinking of is him going to college to study thermonuclear physics.
There is a way to alleviate this problem and it's so simple. Take away the scholarships.
If a kid wants to attend a university to play football, he is more than welcome to do so. However, if this kid has no real intent of studying or majoring in something worth while believing that he will be joining the NFL, then he may be allowed deferment of tuition, books, etc., until he is able to pay it back. While said kid is playing for his school, if he is not under scholarship, then he may be allowed to accept money, gifts and the other luxuries that may be offered to him.
And it's that simple. At least, in my mind.
I've tried to see it from other points of view.
Sometimes I do want to blame the NCAA for their stupid rules. Other times I want to blame the BCS and its for-profit agenda. But when looking at it from the perspective of a 17-year-old, if you know you're talented enough to make it and that within three or four years you'll be a multi-millionaire, why risk it?
I have long believed that the scholarship is the wool being pulled over our eyes. Students first, athletes second? It's laughable at best.
Look, I'm not saying take all the scholarships away. Every now and again you'll get a Myron Rolle or a Greg McElroy or some other intelligent and talented player who treasures that full ride.
But when you hear the argument over and over again that a lot of these guys come from poor backgrounds and they need to take of their families, it's clear that the majority just seem to care about the potential payday.
But who am I? I'm just a fan. I'm just a fan who is sick of the offseason drama. Sometimes the scandals are fun, but when there's a breaking news story coming out of this school or that school every other week it's exhausting.
And what pains me even more is watching this coach or that coach constantly repeat the same things time and time again when they know that we know that they know it's happening there too. Read it again if you didn't get it the first time.
Right now the system is like that old mug we keep trying to super glue together. It looks stable enough and we may even get to pour a beverage in it and take a few sips. But then it just starts leaking again and we sit and question why, unable to simply realize that it's just time for a new mug.
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