I am torn. I am a big fan of college sports, with football being my clear number one and basketball coming in second, but I enjoy other sports at that level as well. The reason for my mixed feelings is how much like professional sports the big two have become. At the Division 1 level, especially in the big conferences, there is very little to back up the premise that these are amateur sports, aside from the fact that the players do not (generally) get paid. Any time I start to think that the whole setup stinks and needs to be changed, I realize that the sports I love could be dramatically altered if that happened, and that’s a hard reality to face. Still, it’s hard to follow these players and not see the problems that come from the big business of college sports.
On Sunday morning, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the young quarterback from Texas A&M who took the college football world by storm last season, put out yet another tweet that he likely regrets. In fact, he deleted it very quickly, but when you have over 350,000 followers on Twitter, things you put out there are not easily erased. His tweet read:
“Bullshit like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be.”
When I read about this, my first thought was that this is a 20-year-old kid, typing into his phone in the middle of the night on a Saturday in the summer, and all of us idiots are analyzing what he meant by it. Of course, you could argue that when you’re a big star like Manziel, constant attention comes with the territory, so he should have known better. It’s easy to forget that this is a kid. A kid who may be famous, but who also does not even get paid for playing the game that made him famous. He can’t capitalize on that fame with endorsements or personal appearances that would make him wealthy. That may come at some point, although there is no guarantee. For now, he can really only experience the difficult side of fame, and I do not envy him that. If I put something stupid out on Twitter, my 65 followers are not going to make the story go national.
Manziel is a bit of a loose cannon. He’s had some legal problems, and has had numerous issues related to Twitter. In fact, he briefly shut down his account back in March of this year in order to avoid the negative attention it had been bringing him. The ban only lasted a couple of weeks, though, as he quickly abandoned his plan. He definitely likes the attention and is, in large part, responsible for most of the negativity that he has experienced, but he is still just a kid who is about to be a junior in college. He should be allowed to be a stupid kid every once in a while. The college sports world has an awful lot invested in this kid, though, and minimizing his public exposure and allowing him some privacy just doesn’t play into the bigger picture.
College sports are about to be severely tested. The Ed O’Bannon case could well change the very foundations of everything under the NCAA banner. Social media has taken off to such an extent that the rest of it may not matter, as far as removing the microscope under which these guys live. As a father of college kids, though, I really would like to see these guys be allowed to just be kids every once in a while.
Bad sports, continued:
2) In case you were unaware, Chad Johnson is an idiot. The wide receiver, who is currently a free agent, was in court while a plea agreement was presented on his behalf, related to his recent probation violation. When the judge told him that he should be thanking his lawyer for getting him out of jail time, Johnson slapped his lawyer on the backside. The judge took that as a sign that the proceedings were not being taken seriously, and rejected the plea deal, sentencing Johnson to thirty days in jail.
3) Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Jason Peters was arrested in Louisiana on Wednesday after being caught drag racing with another driver and then fleeing from police when they approached him.
4) Jason Leffler, a regular in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series who occasionally raced in the top series as well, was killed during a race at a small track in New Jersey on Wednesday when the sprint car he was driving flipped over during a crash. Leffler was 37.
5) A bunch of players and coaches were suspended after a mess of a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. The benches cleared multiple times during the game, and five different players were hit by pitches. The biggest suspension was to Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy, who was banned for ten games.
6) On Saturday afternoon, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb was hit in the head by a line drive hit by Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals. Check out the video. Scary stuff.
7) The College World Series is supposed to be a great event, by all accounts. It began inauspiciously on Saturday, though. The word “college” was spelled wrong (with three Ls instead of two) on the top of the dugout at the stadium. Oops.
8) A construction worker was killed while working on the new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday when an elevator counter-weight fell and hit him.
9) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a very bad decision, in my opinion, when he decided to send a letter to Congress this week on behalf of the Washington Redskins, defending the team’s use of the racist name.
10) During Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open at Merion, a shot off the club of Luke Donald hit a course volunteer in the head. That had to hurt.
1) Also at Merion, Shawn Stefani became the first person to ever score a hole-in-one during one of Merion’s five U.S. Opens. He managed it on the par-3 17th hole on Sunday.
Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday
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