A few weeks ago i am sure that most people, sports fans and non sports fans alike, were appalled by what was being reported out of the University of Virginia. According to SI.com, 4th year defender on the womens lacrosse team, Yeardly Love, was discovered face down on a bed with a pool of blood under her head. She also had bruises on her face and her right eye was swollen shut apparently due to blunt force trauma. Soon after her ex boyfriend, George Huguely was charged with the murder of Ms. Love. He was 4th year lettermen on the successful mens lacrosse team and this story brought up just another sad chapter in the charmed and spoiled life of the college athlete. Two athletes from the University of Virginia’s storied lacrosse program, one is dead and the other will be going to jail. All too often you hear about these spoon fed collegians feeling that they are above all the rules and worse yet above the law. Take a look at these troubling stories about the out of control trend of the collegiate athlete.
The Mid 1990’s
As seen on Mike Lopresti’s column on usatoday.com, Nebraska Cornhusker football player Lawrence Phillips was put on probation for dragging his then girlfriend down a flight of stairs by her hair and slamming her head against a mailbox. Only probation? Coach Tom Osbourne defended his actions by saying that everyone deserves a second chance. Lawrence has been in trouble with the law ever since and you wonder if they didn’t treat him with kid gloves, would he have straightened out and led a productive adult life as an N.F.L. running back.
Thepresenttense.com reported that Preston Parker, an up and coming talent with the Florida State Seminoles football program was slapped with a $200 fine for trying to steal a D.V.D. from a Best Buy store and it took him years to pay it. I guess he felt the rules did not apply to him. This was all after he was arrested for possession of a firearm and marijuana.
April of 2007
As was written on desmoinesregister.com, since April of 2007, University of Iowa collegiate athletes were charged with twenty two crimes. Yes that is right, twenty two crimes. This is an alarming number and you wonder why the athletic director and the coaches let it get this far.
Spelled out on AZcentral.com, three student athletes from Arizona Western College have been suspended awaiting the outcome of an ongoing investigation into an alleged sexual assault on their campus. The names, genders and respective sports have not yet been named. Was this another example of an out of control college athlete not comprehending what it’s like to be told no?
The web page huffingtonpost.com reports that two University of Arkansas football players were charged with drug possession after being caught in their car smoking what was believed to be marijuana. Nineteen year old David Gordon and twenty year old Hunter Miller were the collegiate athletes that appeared to be out of control on this occasion.
What is the problem here and why is it so out of control. Tom Osbourne’s comments regarding Lawrence Phillips says it all. These out of control athletes for too long have gotten away with too much over the years with barely a slap on the wrist. With college sports being an extreme money maker for these top programs the coaches and staff are willing to look the other way if an athlete can help a school win. From an early age these kids are never told no because of their athletic gifts. It’s the fault of coaches and teachers throughout the years and society itself who don’t care what it takes as long as their school or team wins. The trend seems to be turning around and some of these athletes are starting to be held accountable. When that happens it is a good thing. The unfortunate part of all of that is the student athlete. Certain people in their lives helped create the monster that is the out of control collegiate athlete, and when they get caught the kid suffers and probably doesn’t know what hit them. Take George Huguely from the University of Virginia. If someone took a harder line with him earlier and didn’t cater to his every demand, and he never developed that sense of entitlement, things might have gone different and Yeardly Love might be alive today.
I can’t say one person has all of the answers but I believe we can start by not treating these kids like celebrity’s. Remember what they are, “student” athletes. If all the top programs in all the sports took a stance maybe these kids would stop acting like spoiled brats if the rules and laws were enforced. But if things don’t change it seems as though the collegiate athlete will remain out of control.