By Josh Lampley
When I first moved on to the campus of the large SEC school that I attend, I was excited for many reasons. I looked forward to new freedoms, new females, new friends, and SEC football. Those were my four “F’s”. But one aspect of the college life that I never took into account was the fact that the same star athletes I would watch on the field on Saturdays would be in my classes during the week.
My first semester, I walked into a large auditorium to learn about the universal science of jocks… Geology. “Rocks for Jocks”, as many call it, was a relatively easy class in which 150 people would pack into an auditorium at 2:10 to experience the wonders of rocks.
But at about 2:30, another group of students moved into class. This group was much larger than your average group of students, as well as much louder. These guys didn’t care that they had missed almost half of class, and they also didn’t care about interrupting everyone else who actually wanted to learn about Geology (for whatever reason). Judging by their size, muscle tone, and wardrobe (all Adidas gear with Adidas backpacks), I quickly realized who these guys, no, men were… the football players.
Coming from a small high school, the only guys who went on to play college football were friends of mine and weren’t much bigger than me. But these were like another breed of human being. These were Division I athletes in the SEC.
After making their grand entrance, the athletes moved to the back corner of the auditorium, where they began to look at their phones, talk to each other, and pay no attention to the teacher whatsoever. It was incredible how disrespectful they truly were.
At first, I found it amusing. This was probably because one of the athletes happened to be the one of the best players on the football team and a future NFL first-round draft pick. But after a few weeks of watching them come in late, leave early, and talk and do whatever they wanted in between, I began to wonder how these guys were passing this class.
Geology also had a lab session once a week where students were split into small groups and did lab exercises with a teaching assistant. Luckily, I didn’t have any of the athletes in my lab, so everything went smoothly. There was, however, a cheerleader in my lab group (satisfying one of my other F’s).
One day, I was talking to my teaching assistant and the athletes came up in conversation. She told me how “star football player” showed up to his lab late, didn’t do any of the work, and then physically intimidated another teaching assistant when she asked for his work. The problem was so bad that there was a meeting to be held between the teaching assistant, the player, and someone in the football program.
I was surprised that this never made it to the media, considering that every writer in the city would write about anything concerning the team that they could find.
I later learned that he faced no repercussions and went on to have a great season. Everything was swept under the rug, and the class ended with the teacher giving the largest curve I’ve ever seen on a final, allowing the football players to pass (or at least get close).
Does this happen at every big football school? Of course. But the question is, what can we do about it?
These guys are role models for young fans and are treated like royalty on and off campus. They can get away with whatever they want and are rarely negatively portrayed in the local media. As a sports fan, it was unnerving how rude and disrespectful some of the athletes were.
But the thing was, the guy scored touchdowns, so nobody was complaining.
“Star football player” will go on to the NFL and make millions of dollars and never have to show respect to anyone in his life. But what about the backup lineman and third string quarterback who acted the same way? How are these guys going to make it through life after college? They don’t pay attention in class, don’t respect anyone outside of the football program, and breeze through college without lifting a finger. (I’ve also met some really nice athletes who do their work, understand the value of an athletic scholarship and plan on using it to better their futures. It’s guys like these that give me hope.)
I’m not calling for a boycott of college athletics. I love college sports as much as anyone else. But what I would like to see is a coach actually holding his athletes responsible. Being a college football player is great, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to success in the real world.
Even better, I would love to see NFL scouts evaluate players as human beings, not just athletes. Now I know what you’re thinking, “It doesn’t matter whether they are an a-hole or not. If they can score touchdowns I want them on my team.” But here’s the issue: the NFL holds its players responsible for their actions, which is why guys like Adam “Pacman” Jones have trouble keeping work.
Is it the players’ faults? No, it’s ours. It’s the fans, the coaches, the agents, the news networks, everybody. We’ve all created this monster. We allow them to do whatever they want during the week and then we cheer them on and pat them on the back on the weekend. We see them in clubs and tell them how great they are. We allow our girlfriends to have a one night free pass with them in a sleazy motel… (okay, that last one hasn’t happened to me, but it has probably happened somewhere at some point.) Let’s take responsibility for what you, and I, have done.
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