UCLA QB, Josh Rosen, made news this week when he told an interviewer essentially that being a college football player and being a top-flight academic performer did not mix because it was like doing two full-time jobs. He also stirred up some controversy by saying explicitly that there are some athletes in college who do not belong in college. As you might imagine, this has provided fodder for the TV “sports debate programs” and for sports radio hosts. As you can imagine, folks with various points of view on such issues have turned him into a lightning rod. Let me try to examine what he said:
- Playing college football takes a lot of time; being an academically excellent student takes a lot of time. Not everyone can make a commitment to do both because it is difficult to do both. However, it can be done – – and it is done by lots of football and basketball players on campuses around the country all the time. Josh Rosen overstated the problem here.
- While indeed there are plenty of college athletes who graduate from their university in four or five years, there are also plenty of college athletes who are only admitted to college because of their athletic abilities. To deny that situation is Pollyannaish to the max.
- Academic counsellors for athletes have the primary objective of keeping the athletes eligible. If the athlete does not “speak up”, there is more than a small likelihood that the athlete will be “guided” into a series of easy courses/majors that will keep him/her eligible and may or may not provide the athlete with a useful degree upon graduation – – if that ultimately occurs.
Some college majors are more compatible with college athletics than others. I was a chemistry major in undergraduate school. When I took organic chemistry, it was a two-semester course which had 3 hours of lecture, 1 hour of recitation and 6 hours of laboratory per week. The lecture part and the lab part were separate courses in terms of the credit I received, but the total class time for those 2 courses worth of credit was 10 hours per week – – and that does not account for even a moment of study outside the class.
Most courses where I went to school met 3 hours per week. So, if someone majored in political science – to pick a subject at random – he/she would rack up 2 course credits with 6 contact hours per week. Four hours per week may not sound like much, but if you are trying to “do two full-time jobs at once”, it does make a difference. I do not want this to sound as if I had to bear up under hardship in college; that was not the case at all. I merely use myself as an example here to suggest that some courses and some majors will make the already difficult road to simultaneous excellence in academics and athletics even more challenging.
Josh Rosen is 20 years old; he will not turn 21 until after the college football season is over. He made some valid observations and he exaggerated some of his statements. I do not think hyperbole is a capital offense for someone 20 years old… For the record, Josh Rosen in majoring in economics at UCLA.
In the latest installment of the “Colin Kaepernick Saga”, people are organizing a rally to be held outside NFL HQS in NYC for 23 August. The announcement of the rally came in a Tweet from Spike Lee. Surely, we will hear more about this and learn more about the focus of this rally in the next week or so, but there are several things that are not clear to me as of now:
- Is this rally to urge the NFL to put pressure on owners in order to get Colin Kaepernick a job as a QB for one of the teams? I realize that Kaepernick’s situation is uncommon, but is a rally with that objective proper? Should there have been similar rallies back when Tim Tebow wanted to be an NFL QB but could not get any team interested in him? How about Joe Flabeetz?
- Is this rally to focus on Kaepernick’s support for issues of police brutality and various other social causes in the African-American community? If so, why hold it outside NFL HQS? Roger Goodell is hardly a beloved figure with many football fans, but I doubt that any rational folks would pin the blame on him for things like police brutality and high unemployment rates in the African-American community.
- Is this rally going to make it easier for Colin Kaepernick to get a job with an NFL team as the QB? Call me a cynic, but I think this rally is a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card” for any owner/GM/coach who wants to avoid thinking about Colin Kaepernick as a member of the team. Coaches talk about those “dreaded distractions” and any owner looking for an explanation as to why he has not talked to or signed Kaepernick can merely point to the video files of this rally and go off on a riff about “distractions”.
All that stuff will become clearer in the next couple of weeks but there is one thing that I know about this rally already. Spike Lee is involved; he may or may not be one of the organizers, but he is obviously involved in some way. Now IF the objective here is to get Colin Kaepernick a QB job somewhere, I am not sure that an NFL coach or GM is going to put a lot weight on Spike Lee’s recommendations/urgings. After all, his advice and direction for the NY Knicks has not produced much of anything positive.
File this under “I Could Not Make This Up”; the Philadelphia Union of MLS have hired a Chief Tattoo Officer. The team and a tattoo parlor in suburban Philadelphia called Bonedaddys have an agreement that names Bonedaddys as the “go-to place for Union players and staff in need of tattoo services.” You might imagine that some PR guy conjured this up and signed up some deal just to get a press release out. Well, if team press releases are to be believed, this was a serious effort. According to the Philadelphia Union:
- 150 tattoo parlors were initially considered for this “partnership”.
- 13 parlors were “semi-finalists” and 5 parlors were “finalists”
- The winner was determined by “site visits” to the 5 “finalists”.
For those who live near Philly, this partnership will kick off on 21 August at Bonedaddys. To get the ball rolling, the Union’s VP for marketing along with one of the Union players and the founder of the team’s fan club will all be getting tattoos at that kick-off ceremony. I will not be able to make it to this party; I have an appointment back on Earth… [ /Philip Roth]
Finally, since my head is still spinning over the idea of a team hiring a Chief Tattoo Officer, let me close with some musings by Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle:
“Idly wondering: Why did Superman need a real job? Need cash? Grab a lump of coal and squeeze it into a diamond. Want to get close to Lois Lane? Call her and say, ‘Superman here, let’s have lunch.’
“And if Superman needed a real job, why newspaper reporter? Should I fight interplanetary crime today, or cover the Metropolis school board meeting?
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………