This morning on my way to work, I listened to Mike & Mike on ESPN radio. It wasn't intentional. I was listening to a show co-hosted by Charles Barkley on my way home from work yesterday (and he actually gave out some practical advice) and this morning when I got in my car, there was Mike & Mike (with Golic absent due to ND in Ireland).
While I should have just turned it off immediately, the topic at hand caught my attention. Greenie posed the question (and then followed it up with his confirming opinion) whether colleges should lower their admission standards (in some cases, further lower them since admission standards for athletes have already been lowered to make exceptions for athletes) to improve the quality of the product on the field. The example being debated was Notre Dame and whether or not it would benefit the university to accept athletes who fail to meet the academic criteria in order to win more football games and bring more money to the university.
Are they seriously asking this? Are their memories THAT short-sighted? It was less than 2 months ago that they were shouting at us that this was exactly the problem with our culture. Now all of a sudden they're proposing it for other universities?
I was able to make it through about 5 minutes of the debate before I turned it off. Adnan Virk attempted to say no, but was immediately stopped by Greenie who then started discussing how doing so could elevate Notre Dame from it's mid-major status currently back into national championship contention which would only benefit the university. When they opened the debate up for comments is when I had had enough. I'm not saying this to be diminutive, it's merely just to prove my point: The people calling in were clearly lacking in education. Their command of the English language demonstrated that, and their arguments further reflected it. I made it through roughly 3-4 comments before I changed the station as the sentiment by the featured commenters (which may or may not be reflective of the majority, I don't know and won't claim they are or aren't) was roughly "the only schools who don't do this are schools that can't win anyway and need an excuse." One commenter even said, "You can't have your cake and eat it too. So the message is pretty clear from what ESPN promoted and what the comments reflected. If you're a great athlete you can't be smart.
There were a lot of logical fallacies with Greenie's reasoning. When Adnan Virk pointed out that Stanford has been successful and still looks to be a strong team even without Andrew Luck, it was immediately dismissed. Greenie also raised the point that "thousands of people want to go to Notre Dame, so don't claim the reason the best athletes aren't going there are because they're not winning." That argument makes absolutely no sense to me as it does appear that the best recruits in the country want to go to winning programs. There's a reason Notre Dame has been marginal at best for over the last decade, and it's not because of their admission standards.
I guess the point that I'm trying to get at, besides pointing out ESPN's obvious hypocrisy, is that we should be proud of our student-athletes, and the student-athletes of most other schools should feel insulted. I'm of the firm belief that athletes of college sports should be students first and athletes second, not the other way around. I understand that the policies the NFL has in place regarding eligibility make college football a necessity for everyone looking to go pro, however I would hate to see college and universities make changes to accommodate what ultimately benefits the NFL. I'm proud when I see our student-athletes, either in the NFL or in other careers, able to comport themselves with dignity and class and speak intelligently. It pains me to see athletes at other schools unable to do the same (and then wonder why they're broke 2 years after their careers are over). I hope our standards never change and the Grand Experiment lives on, as it's something we should value far more than winning football games. Regardless of what ESPN thinks.