Friday, December 24, 2010


Okay, maybe I'm naive, but I like to believe in the purity of amateur sports, particularly college athletics. Maybe Bobby Knight acted like a jerk sometimes (or most times), but I always admired the fact that he ran a clean program and his players graduated. Alas, it seems my rose-colored glasses are not dark enough. We have two acts of impropriety here.

Five members of the Ohio State Buckeyes (with the emphasis on the "Buck-"), have been suspended by the NCAA for selling football awards. They sold championship rings, jerseys and other awards. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor sold his sportsmanship award and a "gold pants" trinket given to players who are part of a win over arch rival Michigan. The players also received discounts and other improper benefits from a tattoo parlor and it's owner. How could they not know this was wrong? It's not like they never heard of the NCAA or aren't informed of the rules. Student-athletes are not allowed to use their persona to receive gifts or get discounts. Not only is it improper to sell achievement awards, what an insult to think so little of an award, that you would be willing to sell it to get a tattoo or other personal items. They're in college, don't they know the meaning of "sportsmanship"? Apparently not. At least they're smarter than the coaches, who seemed blissfully unaware of these activities. Did they think the tattoos were just bruises from a particularly active practice?
We can solve this problem once and for all: No more awards. You won a championship? Good going, here's a copy of the newspaper headline. You've been named the sportsmanship winner. Congratulations, here, shake my hand. Let's see what that's worth.

Of course, the players probably get some insight as to the value of college athletics by watching the NCAA. That bastion of sportsmanship, fair play and dedication to the purity of amateur athletics, will not allow these acts of impropriety to go unpunished. They have suspended these players for FIVE games and forced them to donate the value of the gifts they received to charity. And they have to use real money, not championship rings and awards. That ought to teach them a lesson. Oh, but wait. The suspensions don't start until next season. Of course they can play in the Sugar Bowl next week. Can't let that game turn into a farce or they might not invite the Big Ten there anymore and we need the money. The NCAA says they can do this when players are "not aware of the rules." ...and there is no big-money Bowl game at stake.

I'll probably still watch the stupid game.


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