Saturday, January 9, 2010

ode to college sports

big news on the college sports front - usc is likely to be penalized for allowing some athletes to receive payola, of some sort, while playing football/basketball for the trojans. namely, reggie bush and o j mayo.

well, there's a surprise. reggie bush came out of high school as part of a very average, middle class family. and somehow while he was attending usc his family was able to move into a veritable mansion somewhere near the campus. maybe, just maybe, he or his family were receiving some money from some unnamed source. ya think?

i'm not as familiar with the o j mayo story, but seems as though something similar occurred with him while he spent his nba mandated "one and done" year in college at usc.

these instances of abuse of the system were so severe that even the irs saw fit to get involved. now, suspension looming, forfeiture of scholarships, perhaps return of the heisman trophy by bush and maybe even the bcs national championship awarded to usc a few years back will be revoked. and pete carroll has decided to get the hell out of dodge and take the helm of the nfl seattle seahawks.

shame on usc and their entire sports program. shame on athletic director mike garrett. shame on . . . but wait, does the ncaa think for one minute that we're gonna believe this is an isolated incident? are we expected to think that usc is a bunch of underhanded, conspiring, glory driven fanatics who will do anything to excel in big time college sports? ok, yeah, they are.

however, they're certainly not alone. i doubt there's a college football program, a college basketball program, maybe even a college baseball program, that gets any serious recognition that isn't violating the spirit of the "amateur athletic" rules.

even smaller colleges, those to which we pay little attention, do questionable things for their players. i personally knew a player who was attending college on a scholarship. and for the four years he was there he took a job with the college to help support himself. his job: turning the lights off every night at the tennis courts. critical that they be turned off by midnight. very important job. and to make sure he did well at the job, the college installed automatic timers on all the lights so they would automatically turn off at the assigned time. i guess he was paid, in essence, to look out the window of his upscale apartment near midnight to make sure the timer was working. don't think the ncaa would ever give this matter any attention.

but the pressure to win at the big name schools prompts all programs to cheat. my best guess would be that if the ncaa really wanted to investigate, they'd find enough evidence to levy suspensions on all major college programs. tendering payment, in one form or another, to players on top college teams is the rule rather than the exception.

is this all bad? depends on your prospective. if you're an alumni of a given school you want to turn your back on the matter. if you're a sooner fan you want to point fingers at the texas program. but the bottom line is simply this - college sports, particularly at the major college level, is not amateur. these players are given lots of perks even in high school. labron james, as i recall, being raised by a single mom who worked in low paying jobs, was somehow able to drive a hummer when he was in high school. he skipped college in favor of the nba, but heck, doubtful his lifestyle could have tolerated the pay scale of college basketball.

i have to ask myself why these violations of ncaa rules are made such a big deal. if the ncaa truly wants college sports to be amatuer they need to really start enforcing their rules. not just making an example of one of the major programs now and then.

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