Are We Asking Too Much Of The College Athlete?

The latest Stephen Garcia rumors and drama that has been going on this offseason brings to the surface many questions regarding college football.  The main one that keeps popping up in my head is the question of whether or not we might be asking too much of college athletes?

In today’s world of college football, the programs are run like major corporations.  The corporate image is to be protected, revenues are to be grown, and shareholders (fans) demand success on an annual basis (rather than a quarterly basis).  That’s all fine and good except that the key personnel for this “corporation” are 18 and 19 year old kids, some with maturity levels of even younger kids.

Thus, the coaches and leadership of these programs are put in the near impossible scenario of appeasing fans with success and “growth” while doing it with an army full of nothing more than kids.

Let us remember that these athletes are college kids.  Do you remember what you were like when you were in college?  I remember what I was like.  While I stayed out of serious trouble, goofy shenanigans were a part of my daily routine.

When I hear about Stephen Garcia having a few beers prior to a mandated “life skills” seminar, I’m not quick to judge.  Back in the day, the fraternity of which I was a member was in trouble for one of those goofy shenanigans and part of the University punishment was to have all members of the fraternity attend a seminar on respecting women.  Now, the seminar was probably very well done and important, but I can assure you that 99% of the young men in attendance there dared not to sit in front of such a presentation without a few beers beforehand.  Disrespectful?  Maybe.  Immature?  Probably.  But, we were college guys, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The common argument here is that it is a privilege to play on the football team and that privilege can be taken away as we saw with Will Muschamp dismissing Janoris Jenkins recently.  I agree that it is a privilege, but maybe we should loosen up a little bit.  If a player robs a liquor store (Tennessee) or texts a woman that it’s time to die (Florida) , then yes, there is cause for serious discipline.  But, I hope the focus of serious discipline aims to prevent violence and serious crime rather than trying to turn players into obedient robots.

As for the coaches… God bless ’em because they have an immensely tough job trying to control 100 or so kids every year in a way that the University deems appropriate while trying to win games on the field, so fans aren’t complaining.  No wonder they make so much money.

As an SEC fan, I hope the attention can turn back to what is happening on the field, because the field on Saturdays in the SEC is nothing short of magical.

Don’t worry, the season will be here soon.