Thursday, December 30, 2010

1 Senior Athlete of the Year Award for Sale!

So I like sports.  From pee-wee to professional and everything in between, you put it on TV and I’ll watch it.  Give me an Aussie-rules football game of “reality-tv” any day!

Anyone who knows me, or my family knows that’s sports are a big deal to us.  My Dad went to college on a basketball at the University of Delaware.  He has been involved in coaching basketball almost ever since and for the last 18 seasons has coached high school girls.  The only job more challenging than coaching high school girls is probably youth minister (shout out to Josh and Hope Butcher), but I digress.  He is the biggest proponent of using your athletic ability to pay for college, and he has the track record to prove it.  Of his 7 children, two are high school sophomores and dominating Delaware Athletics[1].  I am the only one not to have played competitively for my University.  Amber played basketball at Millersville University and was on partial scholarship. Katy played basketball, volleyball, and softball at Hartford County Community College and Wilmington University and was on partial scholarships. Kevin played basketball at Rider University, started out as a walk-on, earned a scholarship and was co-captain his junior and senior years.  Sarah played 4 years of volleyball setting a school record for assists and is in her 3rd season of basketball at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia.  She’s using the eligibility rules as best she can to get 6 years of schooling covered while she pursues a degree in Physical Therapy.  Did I mention sports are a big deal?

If you add to that all of the friends, friends of friends, opponents, teammates, etc., I think I can safely estimate that I have personally interacted with over 5000, “student athletes,” past and present, and at nearly every level of competition (JUCO, NIAA, DIV I, II, III and IAA[2]).  I agree with the NCAA in that, “The vast majority of them will be going pro in something other than their sport.”  And this is where we part ways.

Although the vast majority of college athletes will graduate and get jobs outside of professional athletics, every single one hopes to benefit financially from their collegiate athletic experience.  Additionally, the vast majority could use an extra $2500 to help out during the semester.  In fact, I think the argument can be made that vast majority of people period could use an extra $2500.

Enter the most recent NCAA rules violation.  A handful of Ohio State football players sold personal property and are, right now, ineligible for the first 5 games of next season.[3]


A handful of Ohio State football players sold personal property and are, right now, ineligible for the first 5 games of next season.  Yeah, I said it.  Of and a couple of guys convinced a tattoo artist to not charge them full price.  Now that’s refreshingly
American or Daveramsian depending on your perspective.  I wonder what the NCAA used to assess the fair market value of their tattoos.  I mean had they have gone to Ann Arbor, MI, those tattoos would have cost them an arm and a leg (pun intended), but because they got them at a shop that gave them the best deal, they have to sit out a game.

For me that is the only question that needs to be answered.  Who was the rightful owner of the property?  If it was the players, then they are in the clear.  If it was the school or the NCAA, then they should be charged with larceny.  Larceny may not be the right term, as it has been over a decade since I won a State Championship in Mock Trial.  Yeah that’s right and I’ve got the T-Shirt to prove it.

Come to think of it, my Mom did just wrap up all of the athletic and other trophies I earned growing up and gave them to me as a Christmas Present, so I’ve got some new merchandise!  The NCAA release states that Quarter Back Terrelle, “Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 gold pants, a tradition-rich charm given to players who are a part of a team that beats rival Michigan.”  What do you think I could get for a Top Senior Athlete Award, a Mock Trial Gavel, and the T-Shirt we made ourselves for beating Friends and St. Mark’s?  We’ll start the bidding at $29.95![4]

But seriously, is the NCAA way off base or is it just me?  Now I know some of you out there who have $700 / month student loan payments for degrees that you aren’t using in your current profession, but that should not enter into this discussion.  On our current repayment schedule, Lynsey owes the FEDS $130 / month for the next 7 years for her degree in Animal Science.  She currently works for a Christian Crisis Pregnancy Center and works with humans, not animals.  What I am trying to say is that the argument that these athletes are already being paid by getting a free education holds no water with me.  The way I look at it is that everyone has the same opportunity to attend community colleges and manage the women’s lacrosse team for an extra $2000 in tuition.  Most people don’t do it.  Everyone can walk into Best Buy and ask the manager for a discount and most people don’t do it.  In short what I am saying is that if you overpaid for your college degree just chalk it up to a bad business decision on your part.  Let’s get back to the facts.

How does selling your own personal property negate your status as an amateur athlete?  Now I haven’t read the NCAA eligibility rule book, but shouldn’t common sense apply?  Here are the NCAA’s guiding principles:
* Principle No. 1 — Those who participate in intercollegiate athletics are to be students attending a university or college.
* Principle No. 2 — Intercollegiate athletics contests are to be fair, conducted with integrity, and the safety and well-being of those who participate are paramount.
* Principle No. 3 — Intercollegiate athletics is to be wholly embedded in universities and colleges.

I had a physics teacher who used to carry around a copy of the Mission of the United States Naval Academy on a 3 x 5 card.  Whenever a policy would change, he would pull out the card, shake his head in disbelief, and dejectedly put his card back knowing that yet another policy had been created that in no way supported the stated Mission.

The NCAA claims that within Principle 1 lies the foundation of student athletes not being paid.  I’m not arguing this.  Again, I fail to see how selling my own personal property should be a violation of anything.  How else are these athletes going to do the things that everyone does in college.  No I’m not talking about partying.  I’m talking about buying Christmas presents and renting Uhauls so you can move off campus and paying the cleaning fee on your dorm because you have a lousy roommate and maybe just maybe paying for your family to come visit you?

I could continue but I’ll end the misery for those who are still reading with a simple solution to two more pressing issues in the Big Business World of Football.

1)      College Football Playoff.  Stop counting the games against, “The Little Sisters of the Poor,” as games and count them as scrimmages.  Every conference determines a Champion and those Champions end up in the post season playoff.  Round out the tournament with at large teams based on the AP/Coaches Poll.  Play the first two rounds at the schools with the higher seeds.  Play the final rounds at bowl sites over the 6 week long “bowl season.”  If this sounds familiar it’s probably because you know what IAA is.  The other bowls can still exist because at the end of the day, if I can make money for my organization, my sponsors, the schools that participate, and the stadium employees by having a bowl game, then I should have a bowl game and let the consuming public determine the success or failure of it.
2)      Make the NFL Pro-Bowl an NFL All-Star vs. College All-Star game.[5]  Now the Pros will have a real reason to play, pride, and all the boisterous SEC / USC fans will stop talking about how their team can beat the Carolina Panthers (or whoever happens to be the worst team in the NFL).

[1] After watching this video 7 times, Lynsey turned to me and said, “Did you ever do something this awesome in High School?”  Talk about “Words of Affirmation” from your wife!  I’ll have you know that I did win a State Championship... in Mock Trial!
[2]The NCAA calls this Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) but the way my brain works is that when I see, “IAA,” I read, “One Double A.”  If you don’t understand this, that’s ok.
[4] Heather, Logan, and any of you other WCSers reading this, I’ll even though in my Valedictorian Plaque to sweeten the deal (j/k, lol).
[5] Note that playing in this game would remove the rest of your NCAA eligibility.

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