One person's thoughts may change the world
Number 87. Sort of a fictional number on a subject that is not fictional. It could be a football player’s number, and although some wear it, few do. It does fit a hockey player’s number, who sometimes picks irregular number. It could also be a baseball player’s number, and oddly a basketball player’s number. But, in this article/blog, it’s a fictional number to a non fictional topic. The topic is, who should or who will your kid play for in college.
Well my first assumption is, your kid plays sports, so if they don’t, I’m wasting your time, don’t read this blog. I’m going to focus on two sports in particular, which are football and basketball which are the money printing machines for college sports. March madness, football super conferences, bowl games, BCS bowl games, bowl games featuring company logos, the sweet 16, the elite 8, the final four, the national championship. All branded names for games that are high stakes, bragging rights, a rare moment for a professional oops; I mean college athlete wants to play in. Even when these kids are in high school, their college choice makes major news.
College football is over the top, period. The ticket prices for games, parking, the television contracts, food, the sportswear, the conference payouts and the BCS money is unbelievable and coveted by the schools. Schools want and probably need that money bad to cover the expenses their college athletic program has to support. The University of Michigan sports budget is in excess of 100 million dollars. Without it, many other sports scholarships, like gymnastics, fencing, synchronized, swimming, etc would not exist.
And then comes number 87. He’s has worked his way up into becoming a potential college recruit for this unadulterated meat market. Set up on the podium and goes to the highest bidder or accepts the bidder’s scholarship offer. Sort of what happened to Reggie Bush, who may have taken money and his parents given free fights to his away games as well as a free lease of a very expensive home while he was in college? Fair trade though, he helped them win a national championship and he won a Heisman Trophy. But this sounds more like a modern-day slave market. Everyone cannot win a Heisman or win a national championship. This potential number 87 may or may not have the benefit of a good foundation of moral character or a good sound family background. And at least on the surface, those qualities may not really matter to the coaching staff of some of these schools who are looking to get a nucleus of players to become the next national champions.
But there are too many Lebron stories (meaning his story told over and over again), and not enough reality stories. Very little #87s gets to the pros let along through college. Heck, Lebron James didn’t even go to college. Those who do make it to college on a scholarship are usually cannon fodder, used up for the bigger faster stronger kids to get better. And what’s with all the major college programs producing all of these Kinesiology majors? When I went to university kinesiology was a class that was the study of muscles/movement. Now number 87 has to even graduate early from high school, so he can participate in spring ball, otherwise, he’s going to be behind the 8 ball trying to catch up in the summer and fall. Translation: he will probably be red-shirted as a freshman.
Don’t get me wrong, I love college football. I use to think it was the last bastion of the sport of football that kids played for the glory before heading to the pros. They attended the schools that grew up idealizing and played for the pride of the university they represented. Then the ugly corporations stepped in. First through commercials, by buying airtime of popular games. Then came the lucrative TV contracts that pumped more money into the university. Next was purchasing stadium names and bowl names. Then they needed to crown a national champion so they created the BCS which drummed up even more money. Number 87 is now a gladiator, not a football player. He’s flesh for the waiting public in the coliseum.
So what choices does your son have in this? There is one simple answer. USE THE UNIVERSITY LIKE THEY ARE USING YOU. You have the opportunity to gain a degree of significance while at the “university” you play for. Get it. Take as many significant classes as you can. Many of these large institutions have their own building for athletes only that have access to computers, tutors, study areas, etc. They want you succeed, or at least stay eligible so USE IT! Get a degree worth the ink it’s printed on so you can compete in the real world. Work hard on the field and have fun, but also you are in a world of business who will do nothing but chew you up and spit you out if you underperform or get hurt. Always remember that. Motivation, dedication, hard work, and determination got you there, now stay there and excel in the books while you’re there! Always remember, don’t be another #87.
Peace… Mickey Fickey…