Are amateur athletes fair game? MaybeWritten by Matt Sussman | | email@example.com
Ah, to be 21 again, totally devoid of actual responsibility. When I was that young, I was gallivanting about as the opinion editor of BGSU’s campus newspaper, the BG News. By day, I was a diligent young scholar, and by night, I penned op-eds suggesting that girls who thought they were ugly should buy the hideous Honda Element to feel better about themselves. I was jeered, confronted and written about by readers. I even depended on my parents for a lot of stuff. I, the invincible college senior, needed Mom and Dad for rent money and homemade chocolate éclair cake.
Of course, I was hardly a prominent figure in the area. Scratch that, I was not a prominent figure at all. Television’s talking heads never analyzed me. My likeness was not cloned in EA Sports video games. But I was still a kid whose responsibilities spanned from one end of the academic vacuum to the other. In other words, from Thurstin Street to I-75.
Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid does not play football in a vacuum, nor has he played very well lately, so he was benched.
And by now you may have seen the YouTube video of Reid’s coach, Mike Gundy, laying into The Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson regarding her story on Reid, suggesting that Reid’s childish attitude served as the lynchpin for why he was benched. I think. It took me a while to figure out exactly why Gundy was so angry at Carlson and what exactly Carlson was trying to say about Reid. To this day — and probably even long after you read this — I still don’t fully understand the whole fracas.
It sounds like Gundy was peeved less at Carlson and more about taking a stand against writers railing NCAA athletes for playing poorly on the field while being good citizens off the field. Gee, and to think I just expounded on this very subject two weeks ago, when I noticed BGSU’s football players had deleted their Facebook pages, assets that identified them as snot-nosed, idealistic punk visionaries who run rampant on the weekends.
Gundy’s not alone. A few weeks, ago, ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Scott Van Pelt was found to have written on a University of Maryland message board engaging in a flame war with a commenter who was ripping another inconsistent quarterback, Maryland’s Chris Turner, a sophomore who just turned 20.
“You are a piece of garbage and I loathe you and all your kind,” Van Pelt typed to the message board denizen “loudterp.”
But there’s something very telling about Gundy’s and Van Pelt’s rants. Both of them used the word “garbage.” They’re rather fervent on this topic, aren’t they?
It’s a necessary debate — one that I myself have stalled on for 450 words thus far, because I honestly don’t know how much scrutiny we should put college football players through. How critical should we be of Michigan senior quarterback Chad Henne? Of Notre Dame freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen? Of UT sophomore quarterback Aaron Opelt? The three are between the ages of 19 and 22, at varying levels in their career, receiving varying levels of national attention.
No college athlete gets paid a salary beyond maybe a piddly stipend. They’re nameless in video games and are rarely, if ever, cut from teams for poor performance — just benched. You can’t buy Corey Partridge’s No. 1 jersey, but you can buy a BGSU jersey with a No. 1 on the back.
Well, I can tell by the ads below this column that I am out of space, and I still can’t decide which side of the fence I reside on this issue. And the pickets are starting to chafe me. Actually, I think I’m physically stuck. Could you send for help? No interns, please. They’re horrible at this kind of thing.
Visit Matt Sussman’s sports blog at www.futonreport.net.