UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen made headlines this week with some remarks he made about academics and football -- and how they don't mesh very well. He got a lot of attention for an off-hand thought he had about raising the SAT requirements to get into Alabama but that statement was taken out of context.
But I have a problem with some of the other things he said, which to me came off as naive or insensitive about others trying to get through college without the benefit of a football scholarship:
Look, football and school don't go together. They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they're here because this is the path to the NFL. There's no other way.
No one in their right mind should have a football player's schedule, and go to school. It's not that some players shouldn't be in school; it's just that universities should help them more—instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.
Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don't realize that they're getting screwed until it's too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they're more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There's so much money being made in this sport. It's a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.
Pardon me if I'm not feeling all that sorry for these guys. I worked my way through school. So did my brother. And we had it easy. We had parents in a position to give us a little help. But what about that single mom with two kids working in a restaurant or clothing store trying to get through college? What about that young guy working eight hours of construction all day and then trying to put together enough night-school hours to get a degree? Or how about the kid who isn't working now but will be grinding for the next 20 years paying off that $100,000 student loan?
And those people aren't getting the "help" (tutors, advisers, etc..) that those football players are getting.
I understand the whole idea of big-time college sports generating a lot of revenue that never trickles down to the players. But I also see a whole lot of athletes -- including the ones who are in college ONLY as a path to the pros -- who place no value whatsoever on that college education. The athletes are often the rare ones leaving school without major unpaid loans hanging over their heads.
Let's talk about UCLA, where Rosen goes.
It's estimated that the cost of attending UCLA for just one year -- for a California resident -- is $34,056. For a non-resident it's $60,738. PER YEAR. So please, spare me all the talk about athletes not being paid for their athletic participation. They are being given something of great value, whether they realize it or not. Do they have to work for their scholarships? Of course, but maybe no longer or no harder than you or me or, more appropriately, our children did at jobs not quite as glamorous as playing college football or basketball.
There's nobody there to give you a standing ovation when you leave that janitor job every night on the way to night school. And certainly you're never going to be the Big Man (or Woman) On Campus -- with all the perks that go with it -- while slinging bento at a local food cart.
Spare me, Mr. Rosen. You and your teammates don't really have it so tough.