It is what it is

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 11:19 AM

For years I’ve heard fans of college sports from all generations talk about how they would much rather watch those levels of competition than the professional game. They cite the fact that professional players make money and are therefore less “pure” of an athlete.

College athletes are supposed to play for the love of the sport and the pride they have in their institution, but the more I watch and the more I read, I’m starting to think that professional sports are the least corrupt and dirty of any level, youth sports included.

When was the last time you heard of a pro athlete receiving impermissible benefits? When was the last time you heard of a professional coach running around with a 20-something-year-old staff member? When was the last time you heard of general manager embezzling money from an organization?

Nothing is pure. Why? It all comes down to money. In any business where money changes hands and there are dollars to be made, some unfair happening are bound to occur.

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy just about everything else. And I realize I sound materialistic or maybe even shallow, I’ll go with realistic.

And college sports fans don’t understand how much money has been spent for their happiness.

It goes beyond illegal doing such as paying player, free meals, free car rentals and free grades. It starts with the program itself.

Recruits want to play at a program that offers them the best experience possible. If they get a tour of a particular campus where athletes work out in a state of the art facility with new everything, chances are that will sway the away from a smaller school with a weight room just a few notches above their high school’s.  Those resources are not free.

Recruits want new stadiums, new uniforms, nice living situations and other luxuries that make the life a college athlete enjoyable. I don’t blame them at all. I would want the same. But for anyone to think that programs can be successful without extraordinary funding and financial support are dead wrong.

Some programs set themselves apart because of tradition, like an Alabama or Notre Dame, but those traditions have brought in a lot of financial support. And as much as we ignore it, it’s somewhat of an unfair advantage in my opinion. And we get mad if a player makes a few bucks by signing a few footballs and photo as if that’s unfair?

College football and basketball players like money just as much as the next person. For many of the top players in college, the only reason they aren’t in the pros making money is because the NCAA and respective leagues prohibit them from going straight to the professional level from high school.

If they have the talent and notoriety to profit from their name and likeness, who are we to say that’s not okay?

Would you live on Hot Pockets and light beer if you had the option of making thousands of dollars for signing a few autographs?

If we, as a society of sports fans, let go of the notion that college athletics are pure and unsoiled, a lot less people would be in a lot less trouble. It is what it is. And who would it hurt?

I’m all for letting go of unfair perceptions and views. Even though I just used it, I hate the phrase “it is what it is.” But I hate it in the context of wrongdoings.

When I talk about how I wish the public and others in the professional world would respect me for my knowledge and ability as opposed to disrespect me because of my age, I’m often told that it’s just the way it is. That’s called ageism. Just because that’s how it is doesn’t make it acceptable. The same goes for racism, sexism, etc, but accepting that college athletics isn’t pure and perfect does nothing but make things less stressful for everyone.

Johnny Manziel allegedly made money for autographs, so what? Who does it hurt? Dez Bryant had dinner with Deion Sanders, so what? Terrelle Pryor traded memorabilia for tattoos, so what? Someone rented PJ Hairston a car, so what? It happens everywhere, but it all comes down to who gets caught.

Let’s just accept college athletics for what they are and move on.