Posts Tagged ‘college athletics’

Sigh, and the the response? Oh, never critique college athletics!

January 4, 2012

Earlier this week, I had a post about a now former UT player who wrote a letter to the editor that demonstrated exceptionally poor grammatical skills.  Look, I’m not a wordsmith.  Being terrifically dyslexic I rely on spell check, grammar check and often have to go back and make basic corrections because I simply do not see the errors.  What disturbed me about the letter was the capitalization (hey, English is pretty clear on this *one* rule!) and a letter with so many errors, that for me, it demonstrated an individual who did not have the basic writing skills that should be indicative of a high school graduate.  I received a reply back to my blog….and approved it….and have been chewing on it:

This is such an ignorant arguement. Their are thousands of international students that attend Universities that can barely even speak the English language yet alone write a coherent sentence, but they are graduating from the top Universities with math, science, and engineering degrees. Who are you to judge a man’s intelligance based soley on one writing sample and form an entire biased arguement against he and every other student athlete. Who are you to speak for Notre Dame, Michigan or Michigan State and who they decide to accept into their institutions. Why do you care what happens to college athlete’s after their playing days are over. They make up less then 4% of the entire student body. Why not take into account all those millions of students across the country who CAN “write a proper English sentence” but are majoring in fields that can’t even get you a decent hourly wage in today’s times. Yet all these students are leaving college 50-60k in debt. For the average student colleges say to them, “You pay us, we’ll educate you in whatever you want to study.” But for the college athlete that same University says “We’ll pay you to play, and we’ll give you an outstanding education, while you make us money to help market our Univeristy on television and gain private donors and corporate dollars to build new facilities and add prestiage to our name. We will also give you personal tutors and every educational resource we have available to keep you eligable.”

So if anything, college athletes have more of an advantage to a more effecient college education because these college’s and Universities have more of an investment in these students athlete’s for them not to fail, as opposed to John Doe who is majoring in Art History or Archeology of the Aztec Empire. Hence, college athlete’s leave their respective Universities  better prepared to succeed in life and with as much education then the average student.”

Sigh.  I think I just proved my point.  A few responses:

“Why do you care what happens to college athlete’s after their playing days are over.”  Put it this way: if somebody goes through high school and college/university and cannot write a basic letter to the editor, there is a fatal flaw in the education system.  I’m not into stalking former wide receivers at a university: I do hope that when an athlete leaves his/her sport she has the skills to succeed in life.

Who are you to judge a man’s intelligance based soley on one writing sample and form an entire biased arguement against he and every other student athlete. I’m not judging his intelligence.  I am saying that there is a major problem with the system. Look, we all receive judgement based on a first impression: when you look for a job, it is often your cover letter/resume.  When you apply to colleges, it is often your essay.  Both require writing skills that were not demonstrated in the letter.

Why not take into account all those millions of students across the country who CAN “write a proper English sentence” but are majoring in fields that can’t even get you a decent hourly wage in today’s times. I do.  Having a BA in American History and a Master’s in Theology, I don’t exactly have the most practical degrees.  I’m hacking down my student loans, live very bare to the bones and after being laid off from one job, my ability to write is what landed me the interview (how do I know? I was told by the person who hired me).  That being said, if you are going to major in political science, you need a plan b.  You need to develop marketable skills.  Being able to write a proper sentence IS critical to success, even in our hyper-abreviated forms of communication.

But for the college athlete that same University says “We’ll pay you to play, and we’ll give you an outstanding education, while you make us money to help market our Univeristy on television and gain private donors and corporate dollars to build new facilities and add prestiage to our name. We will also give you personal tutors and every educational resource we have available to keep you eligable.”  Ok, the university better not be PAYING anybody to play except via a tuition/room/board/books stipend.  And given the letter to the editor, isn’t it concerning that despite the resources available, the individual still could not write a correct letter to the editor? Again, this isn’t the fault of the University of Tennessee: where were the high school English teachers?

The NCAA and member schools are doing a disservice to the athletes when they do not ensure that the students enrolling are able to make the grade in the classroom.

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Oh, Right, College IS about Athletics

December 31, 2011

I admitt a more than a passing interest to collge football.  After the Penn State scandal, I’ve found my interest waning over the sport.  I still occasionally read on-line articles about the University of Tennessee Volunteers.  Earlier this week, a freshman wide receiver, DeAnthony Arnett, asked for an unconditional release from his scholarship to return to a school closer to home due to his father’s illness.  I don’t know the ins and outs but the comment section of the News Sentiel is lighting up on both sides of the argument.  Arnett went public with an open letter stating his reasons for wanting an unconditional release.  The letter states in part:

“My mom is in a finacial bond my father was forced to retire from his job at General Motors because of a Lung Diseas on Disability, so I started recieving social security checks for a monthly payment of 1100 a month. I was 14 years old when most of this occured so I was un able to recieve my own check until I turned 18 years old so she always controlled my money and she used that as part of her income. When I turned 18 years old the checks came in my name but my mom and I always shared the funds with her. When June came upon my graduation I  recieved a letter from the social security adminstration that my checks would be cut when I graduated so a 1100$ of income was taken from my mother household. She only attended one game this past season.

As this season went on I never was use to my parents not being at my games so it made the season a little harder for me but I still competed hard in my classes as my transcript grades from last semester were three B’s and C and I appeared in all 12 games as a true freshman this season working hard every weak to earn my playing time.”

UT is not the best school in Tennessee: the main campus is probably the 4th best in the state (private and public).  How did Arnett manage the grades he did? Better question: how did Arnett graduate from junior high, let alone high school? How did Arnett manage to qualify academically?  He may be a gifted wide receiver.  He may be a wonderful 19 year old kid.  Maybe I’m judging a book by its cover (or the standards of UT and other programs by one letter) but what on earth is going on in the public education system that allows spelling and grammar like the one Arnett wrote to be considered acceptable (as I am guessing this is close to his style of writing)? What happens to people like Arnett when the playing days are over and skills may not be there for the next level?

College athletics is a money making venture for  the schools.  It is fun for the alumni and students to attend games.  Make no bones about it: being a D-I college athlete is a full time job: to balance academics and athletics is nearly impossible (it is part of the reason the NCAA gives 5 years of scholarship dollars to complete a degree) which is why basketball programs like Duke, UT Lady Vols, the UConn women deserve a nod for very high graduation rates.  Not everybody who attends a university is going to come from equal academic backgrounds.  But the ability to write a basic (without glaring grammatical or spelling errors) letter to the editor of on a subject matter should be at the very least a requirement for graduation from high school.

Much has been debated (almost ad nauseum) about the rise of China, the slipping of the United States as an international power.  With an education system that allowed Arnett to graduate from high school and be admitted to a mid-ranked university with the writing skills he displayed is a national tragedy.  It’s time we put the money we spend on sports aside and use it towards education.  It is the very least we can do for a future.  While I hope Dooley grants the release, I also hope that Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State do not offer Arnett a scholarship: the kid simply doesn’t have the writing skills to compete at 2 of the top schools in the country in the classroom.

What you do when nobody is watching is what matters.

February 27, 2011

My brother and his son spent part of this past week in Cincinnati. One of their stops, the University of Cincinnati campus, demonstrated what is good about college athletics.  While “investigating” the football stadium in a way that only a 4-year-old can, my nephew spied a big bus – an instant draw.  He noticed athletes, dressed in sweats with hoods up walking to the bus.

In hopes of finding an elusive college football player, he went to investigate. Much to his initial chagrin, he found the Cincinnati women’s basketball team. They were en route to South Bend and an eventual loss to the #7 Notre Dame program.   Jamelle Elliott, the coach of the Bearcats, is in the process of leading her team through an injury filled season that according to ESPN.com dressed 7 players for the Notre Dame game.

Given all of that, one would expect a wave or a nod to a cute kid. It’s been an exhausting season on the Cincinnati campus for the women’s basketball team. Instead, 3 players (and I wish I knew their names) stopped loading the busses, walked over and talked to my nephew about taking the bus to Notre Dame, and spent a few minutes with a kid who isn’t a Cincinnati fan and really was more interested in seeing a “real football player”.

Evan and Oscar

Evan said good-bye to his new friends “Have a safe trip! Have a good game!” and headed off to see the statue of Oscar Robinson.  A nice encounter with a group of athletes.  For Evan, it would only get better.

He spied a pitcher and a catcher practicing.  He asked my brother about the signs the catcher was going over and why they did that.  Fearlessly, Evan went over and announced he was going to play T-ball in the spring.  Again, many athletes would say something polite and carry on with their workout.

The two ball players asked him if he knew how to throw – and then provided him with an impromptu clinic on the right way to throw a baseball.  My brother said they spent a solid 15 minutes showing Evan how to throw and talking to him. Nobody was watching, simply 2 young men being nice to my nephew.  Brian Cleary, you have some class acts playing for you.

There is a lot wrong with college athletics but there is much more that is right. My brother will always be a Tennessee Vol. I’ll always pull of The Ohio State University.  But when Cincinnati plays? They’ve picked up a few fans; simply by going of their way to be nice to a little kid who was exploring their campus.

The University of Cincinnati president Gregory Williams should be proud.