Sunday, December 27, 2009

OT: There's More to College Than Football

I like football. I watch a lot of games during the season but as a former athlete in an Olympic sport I got really annoyed at the Football coaches at Texas fairly often. They have always been shortsighted in terms of other sports and academics. Take for example Jamaal Charles who is now the big play maker for Kansas City. The kid was super fast and ran track at Texas in the offseason. The short story of it all was that track in college gave Charles something to do in the offseason to keep his focus on something other than the street.
Back in Port Arthur, track had kept Charles focused. It had given him something to do during football offseason, when cousins found trouble .
Now I often defend athletics because I was an athlete who benefited from competing for a division one school. But there were times when I had to fight my guidance councilor to take harder classes. At times she would try to give me easy classes because of catering to the lowest common denominator in the program. People who just needed classes to stay eligible to play.

Speaking for myself, I chafed at the idea of not being able to take classes like Military History to 1900 because others said they would be hard. (One of the most fascinating courses I took in Undergrad outside of my major classes) But this also speaks to the fact that colleges don't see football players as part of the student body. In fact it is evidenced every time we get a good athlete who wants to run track and play football. Usually football wins out:
Charles says he was told that if he wanted to maintain his place as the Longhorns' starting running back, he'd have to abandon track and make football a year-round commitment.
There were many guys who liked to run who were told they couldn't. I don't doubt that studying more tape helps. But Football isn't the center of the universe. If they are enrolled in school, let them take the classes they want. And if they want to play another sport that helps their football playing in the offseason why not let them?

4 comments:

EngineerScotty said...

Football makes tons of money. Track doesn't--unless you go to the University of Oregon, and that's only because a certain track alumnus got very rich selling shoes...

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I don't disagree with that. I benefited from the money that came from football and am very appreciative for that. What I'm saying is that athletes who want to do something such as run track or take a class should be allowed to. They didn't sign their life over to the football team, they enrolled in the University which is being kindly paid for by the Athletic department. These players are making millions for the athletic department and many argue that its basically slave labor for coaches to make millions of dollars. I don't go that far but I do think that you should be able to do what you want. I'm sure lots of people won't agree and that's fine, but after seeing what goes on behind the scenes, I don't see why being an All American in track could hurt the football team because they miss a spring practice or two.

Cavan said...

Part of your experience with football is because you went to college in the South. As you know, for some strange reason, college football is a god there.

It is not that way everywhere. I went to a college in a BCS conference and football was another varsity sport that had to play by the same (sometimes bent) rules that all the other sports did. We're not a football school and aren't in college football country. The Redskins are by far the signature attraction for American football in the region.

M1EK said...

It's not just that Texas is in the south and is a big football school. They're actually the WORST 'football school' - in terms of exploiting their athletes and providing them with no education in return.

http://higheredwatch.newamerica.net/blogposts/2009/third_annual_academic_bowl_championship_series_rankings-25250

Texas has fallen so far that they actually make the SEC look good these days.

- M1EK (PSU '92, proud of it)