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Sunday, September 6, 2009

College Division 1 Athletes Gone Wild

Already, the college football season has produced some very questionable behavior from college athletes. Like it or not, Division 1 players represent the highest level of intercollegiate athletics who are expected to abide by a strict code of behavior to insure their select eligibility. The myth that college football is pure -- an amateur game free of money and a game better behaved than pro football -- is just that, a myth.

Division 1 players are performers who are constantly under the scrutiny of the NCAA, their schools, coaches, and millions of fans. Their every move, on the field and off the field, is open to controversy. Granted, the players generate enormous income for their colleges and are under extreme pressure to produce, but bad behavior of a few casts long shadows over the rest of their team, their school, their division, and the game of college football.

Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says, "Remember this. All of us, the media included, have created this system that starts holding these guys up to public scrutiny and praise before they are old enough to shave. We have created a system where high school children are having signing day press conferences on ESPN. Most—the vast majority in fact—have the maturity to handle it. Some don’t." (February 28 2008)

Barnhart continues to say that the coaches see the parents' child who has been recruited and whose family has been promised that the child will be treated fairly on and off the field. So instead of the program sending him with a one-way bus ticket home after an infraction, many colleges wait for persistent violations of behavior. To quote Barnhart, "As tempting as it might be, you can’t use somebody else’s child in an attempt to scare 100 other athletes into toeing the line."

The fanatical frenzy of a Division 1 football game has become out of hand. Winning makes money for the program and that's what the players, fans, schools, and coaches need to quench the blood lust for the sport. Sportsmanship matters little when an 0-12 team is voted Team With the Best Over-all Behavior or Team With the Highest Graduation Rate. Lee Trevino's twisted Vince Lombardi quote rings true in big-time college football: "Winning isn't everything. It's the money you make doing it that's everything."

From Where Does Bad Behavior Spring?

Pee wee to grade school to high school to college: the chain of play with discipline stressed at every level seems to have done little to transform the ego-driven and troubled youth into a true sportsman. In fact, good sportsmanship seems to be falling out of fashion, youth sports officials note, as overaggressive adults prowl the sidelines and grandstands screaming at officials, coaches and players. Is this where the frenzy begins?

Add to this to the fact that many parents are using their kids in sports to fulfill their own ego needs. Children grow up feeling entitled and turn into brats.

Micheal S. James and Tracy Ziemer of ABC News say some people believe win-at-all-cost coaches, violent parents and poor role models in professional sports may be making child athletes more aggressive and violent, although no hard statistics on assaults at youth sports events exist to prove or disprove it.

Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, says. “Far too often, we tell [kids] it’s OK to cheat in order to win, to taunt the players on the other team, to criticize officials.” (ABC News, August 8 2000)

“Not only has the language gone more in the gutter, but we’ve also seen a rise in the number of incidences reported where physical violence has occurred,” says Bob Still, public relations manager for the National Association of Sports Officials. (ABC News, August 8 2000)

Edgar Shields, a professor of exercise and sport science, says his study of more than 2,000 male and female athletes in a broad range of sports showed 80.7 percent accepted intimidation and 44.9 accepted on-field violence as part of the game, even though 56.4 percent thought physical, verbal or gesture intimidation was bad sportsmanship. (ABC News, August 8 2000) It is a trickle-down effect picked up from cues from the kid's heroes on television.

Fred Engh sees one reason children are prone to violent, dangerous behavior. Engh says. “Look at the World Wrestling Federation. Look at the Jerry Springer Show. This is the mentality of a growing number of dysfunctional people that is creeping into youth sports.”

This Week's Sad News

1. After Oregon's college football season opened, it ended for running back LeGarrette Blount. Blount was suspended for all remaining games on Friday for punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw following the 16th-ranked Ducks' 19-8 loss to the 14th-ranked Broncos on Thursday night. Hout yelled in Blount's face and tapped him on the shoulder pad. Before Boise State coach Chris Petersen could pull Hout away, Blount landed a right to Hout's jaw, knocking him to his knees.

Blount also had to be restrained by police from fans heckling him on the way to the locker room.

Chris Petersen said Hout will be disciplined and it will be handled internally. (Los Angeles Times, September 5 2009)

2. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, ceremoniously referred to by some as "LeBron in Cleats," wore decorated eye-blacks patches with the words Mika under his right eye and Vick under his left in Ohio State's 31-27 victory over Navy in Columbus Saturday.

According to Pryor, "Mika referred to Pryor's sister." Vick was a nod to Michael Vick, the NFL quarterback who served 18 months in federal prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. He is back in the league, with the Philadelphia Eagles. (Tim May, Columbus Dispatch, September 5 2009)

Pryor goes on to explain his actions with these comments. "I know what happened with him and, I mean, I don't want to talk much. I'm just going to be very short and sweet with it," Pryor said yesterday. "But I just feel he made his mistake and I think he just needs more support.

Pryor goes on, "Not everybody is the perfect person in the world. Everyone does -- kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me. I just feel that people need to give him a chance."

And, finally, Pryor admits,"I always looked up to Mike Vick and I always will, because I still think he is one of the best quarterbacks," Pryor said. "I love Mike Vick."

Asked for his thoughts on Pryor's choice of names on his eyeblack patches, coach Jim Tressel said he never noticed. "No thoughts," Tressel said. "Didn't know it."

Saturday was viewed as a special day to honor the Navy.

Ohio State and Navy players lined up in the south end zone of Ohio Stadium and shook hands before the game as part of the American Football Coaches Association’s sportsmanship weekend. After that, both teams gathered on each side of the goal posts and ran on the field together through the Ohio State Marching Band. When the game ended, Navy players stood behind OSU for the traditional playing of Carmen Ohio in front of the band.

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