Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh, Man, This Is The Most Shocking Thing Ever. I Mean. Ya Know.

Mere days after the criminals in the MN Governor's Office, the MN Legislature, and the headquarters of the Minnesota Vikings announce their wonderful deal to give Thug-In-Charge Zygi Wilf $500 million dollars, the MNSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) is looking at tuition increases, faculty cuts, and facilities and programs cuts. Oh dear, whoever could have seen this coming. Tssk. Tssk.


I love Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He brought the Super Bowl Title home, he seems like a good guy, bit of a goofball. But, he did not belong in college. Clay Matthews, LB? Did not belong in college. For the Vikings - Adrien Petersen? Nope. Jared Allen? Could not have gotten into college on his own, no way. The only exception to this rule who springs to mind in Robert Smith, Vikings RB from the 90's-00's, who made a bit of cash as a running back, and then, because he was an academic whiz, retired in his prime with mind and body intact, to study medicine and any other issues that intrigued him. Oh, and Alan Page, former Viking DT and now an associate justice on the MN Supreme Court. There are probably a few others who were able to leave professional athletics and then use their educations to do real good for society, but the percentage is low.

I am not, by any stretch, suggesting these people are stupid.  Successful athletes have acquired, or have had innately and then further honed, skill sets not common in the general populace. They have worked very hard, studied very hard, practiced very hard to achieve a goal, and they deserve their accolades. However, the laser-like focus on sports success does not translate well into general academics. Success in academics is only amplified by a sense of curiosity, a willingness to follow a path of inquiry where it leads. Success in athletics is achieved through training the body and mind to respond rapidly, repeatedly, and accurately to a set of stimuli. 

People in the rarified world of professional athletes have been told that they were destined for fame and fortune for a very long time. The rules stop applying to them. Especially school rules. Studying the voyages of the Argo takes away valuable time from watching film, training your eyes, arms, and legs to recognize and respond to a stunt blitz. Things slide, sort of, a bit. Well, all of it, really. They get 'help' with homework. The instructor for English 304 stops taking attendance the semester that the starting wide receiver takes the class. The athletes are not in the slightest interested in getting a degree, unless it is in Coaching (a real degree at the school where I went to college - B.S. Athletic Training. Really?!?!) They are wasting space and money, getting scholarships that should go to a poor kid who, after observing the world around him, has a few interesting ideas about civil engineering, but needs further education to develop and apply those thoughts. Or the kid with a love for rocks, or microbiology.

The problem is amplified by the fact that at any given point there are about 1500 professional football players. The high school QB, given a pass in all his classes because he triumphed over the Cross-Town Mouseblowers, didn't make the college team for whatever reason, and as he has never learned how to learn, he can't hack it in college and ends up selling shoes. The star DB on the BCS champion Midwestern University Cowtippers gets burned for two TDs on simple post patterns during the national championship game, does not get drafted, and now, 56 credits shy of his degree in Gymnastics Analysis and out of scholarship money, ends up working for the guy selling shoes.

I am as rabid as anyone in my love for Wisconsin Badgers football. But I am under no illusion that colleges should be wasting money on what is essentially a minor league farm system for the professional leagues. The major sports associations are entertainment, that's all, and produce nothing, nothing, of value to our society. Intra- and inter-mural sports programs have their place, and I am all for those - for exercise, social activities, meetin' chicks. But if the NFL wants a farm system, they can damn well afford it, and let the colleges serve kids who one day will produce value to our country.

And as for the stadium deal? Boy, that started to go stupid even sooner than I would have thought, and I'm a cynical bastard. I need prosecutions. Now.


  1. The only exception to this rule who springs to mind in Robert Smith, Vikings RB from the 90's-00's, who made a bit of cash as a running back, and then, because he was an academic whiz, retired in his prime with mind and body intact, to study medicine and any other issues that intrigued him

    Not to mention his lucrative singing career.

  2. Holy dammit I'm old... Disintegration came out when I was about done as an overseas student in Scotland, and then was pleasantly inescapable that summer.