Friday, July 23, 2010

College Athletes, College Athletics Have Lost Their Way

By Jared Trexler

Philadelphia (The Phanatic Magazine) -Paul Pierce wears denim jeans that cost more than my life.  Kobe Bryant sports t-shirts pricier than my suits.  Chris Johnson slowly puts on gym shorts each morning that equate to a week's worth of groceries for most.

These players brand a style, a sporting mentality of wearing nice clothes while driving nice cars en route to nice restaurants.  This is old news.  Or is it?

Pierce does not wear Kansas digs (at least in public).  Johnson does not don shorts with a Wildcat...rather a Swoosh.  Hell, Bryant had the right idea...he didn't go to college.

You and I, sipping our morning coffee in an office where diplomas serve as identity placards, are proud of our college experience.  We wear school colors, escape back to the "experience" whenever work allows, illustrate our professorial knowledge whenever warranted.

College athletes could care less.  And I mean that in the nicest possible way with the complete understanding it is a sweeping generalization.

That is until you look at Reggie Bush.  Until you stare far down at the depths his greed and self-righteousness have sank the school and athletic program that helped mold his name. 

That is until you read the stories dotting ESPN's front page on a daily basis about illegal activity between athletes and sports agents.  The stories range from monetary exchange to elaborate gifts like Cadillacs and three-story mansions for college students, a sector of society more known to drive beat-down Hondas and feast on an endless supply of pizza.

Not these athletes, whose god-given talents are cash cows for athletic programs without proper compensation in return. (I'm purely speaking on their behalf as a devil's advocate with that point. Back to your regularly scheduled premise).  These student athletes have one eye on the field/court and another on its by-product, a life of financial freedom in the professional ranks.  But the overarching question remains, "if one eye is on the field/court and another is on the future, aren't these student athletes blind when it comes to school loyalty?"

YES.  And why shouldn't they be.  After all, many athletic personnel cuddle these athletes, fail in opportune "teaching moments" and for lack of a better phrase, let the kids run the asylum.  The athletes have no fear of getting caught because there is little to no individual punishment for their actions.

True, Reggie Bush is holding his breath on the Heisman Trophy, but he is making millions in the NFL while USC recently took the brunt of his negligence in a wide-ranging probation punishment that includes the loss of scholarships and a two-year bowl ban. 

The hammer may soon come down on North Carolina, behind alleged improprieties involving high-profile draft picks Marvin Austin and Greg Little.  Nothing has been proven but we known where there is smoke...there is a liar.

Players lie to cover their tracks.  Agents lie to get players into these predicaments.  Athletic and on-field personnel lie because their jobs depend on winning...and winning depends on talent...and talent, well, talent is busy getting an early glimpse of luxury.

It's a nasty cycle where coaches who enforce strict compliance and recruit college players lose jobs.  Agents that follow NCAA rules and don't use unlimited funds and connections to tempt players lose jobs.  Players that focus on their initial job in know, going to college...lose jobs (aka their chance at "the life").

College athletics is a job-churning slaughter house full of big money, big temptation and too many kids trying to be adults and adults trying to be kids.  You might as well take the names and logos off of these jerseys/uniforms and start professional feeder programs in Chapel Hill and Ann Arbor.

It's all window dressing for a multi-million dollar industry without a shred of dignity. It's disgusting, and until the NCAA cracks down on each and every case of negligence (jury is still out whether USC was an example or an exception to the rules), Kobe Bryant had it right.

He didn't pretend to be something he wasn't (and something hundreds of football and basketball stars masquerade as on a daily basis).  A college athlete.

Purchase one of Jared Trexler’s two books; “Penn State Football: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports” and “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before…Filling Out Your Hoops Bracket” at

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