What gives? Clean-cut images of Whizzer White, Gerald Ford, and Bill Bradley as the prototype student-athletes are long forgotten and replaced by headlines of rampant violence, pillaging, and sexual depravity. Recent examples are the murder of Baylor basketball star, torching of campuses during the NCAA basketball tournament, and the animal house that makes up of the Colorado football team. Unfortunately, Colorado is not an isolated case. These nefarious activities are the tip of the iceberg of what occurs at most college athletic programs - and it has been going on a long time.
The critical problem here is that U.S. team sports breeds a culture of young men who are treated like gods for playing a game well. Would-be gods don‘t always feel accountable for their actions like the rest of society.
Football and basketball, in particular, bring in many millions of dollars for the universities that are not allowed to pay the people most responsible for the windfall - the players. The trade-off is that university officials pretend not to notice when their athletes steal, beat each other up at parties, or refuse to attend class. What incentive is there for athletes to be students? Several years ago, University of Minnesota basketball officials were caught cheating in behalf of players in order that some individuals would stay eligible to play games.
While attending Michigan State in the 1970‘s, a buddy and I took an elective class on the theory of football, mostly out of curiosity. It was taught by a rotating group of coaches and attended by mostly scholarship athletes. Not surprisingly, my friend and I also appeared to be the only students who attended this class on a regular basis. The final exam was a “take-home“ test so everyone received an “A.“ In short, the class was a joke.
Of course, there isn‘t really much of a deterrent to avoid bad behavior and the breaking the law from the college oversight committees of the NCAA. When the University of Michigan officials looked the other way as hundreds of thousands of dollars were being funneled to Chris Weber and his teammates in the early 1990‘s by a booster, the NCAA barely gave them a slap on the wrist.
Several years ago, Southern Methodist was forced to cancel their football program despite fewer infractions committed than U of M. Why, the disparity? The death penalty for a legendary sports program such as Michigan would have trumpeted the truth to the world: rampant corruption in college sports runs from small to big universities and saturates every level of sports from the athletes to university officials to the governing NCAA itself.
Obviously, many student-athletes in college take their studies seriously and avoid criminal behavior. Unfortunately, other athletes aren‘t mature enough to handle being glorified for their athletic prowess throughout their school years. For these individuals, their college term is just four more years before they are required to wake up to the reality of developing skills for a job outside of athletics. By then, it is sometimes too late for reformation by the young person.
The solution: eliminate athletic scholarships. Without free rides, student-athletes attending the university would be treated like every else. No longer would colleges be used as farm systems for professional leagues. Actual minor leagues for basketball and football could evolve that would pay the players a reasonable wage. I for one would pay to see the Petoskey Stones play the Traverse City Cherry Pits in minor league basketball.
If teenaged athletes were ready for the NBA or NFL after high school (very few are), they would be allowed to play immediately. Players, who want to combine performing in a sport and pursuing an education after high school, could play college ball without a scholarship or play for a minor league team. Scholarships based on financial need would still apply.
The current system is a disgrace. I used to be a big fan of collegiate sports but as time goes on it only sickens me to read of the latest scandal. It least the pros are honest - they are mostly about money and don‘t deny it.
College sports are about lying: athletes don‘t care about their classes, officials don‘t care about the welfare of their players - only the revenue produced by the athletic department.
And now, I don‘t care to watch their corrupt games anymore.