I hate to take the side of wealthy college administrators over disgruntled college students. But in the case of Grambling State University, I simply do not support the message that the players are trying to send. Over the weekend, the university canceled its football game against Jackson State University after the players had boycotted playing. They sent a letter to the administration highlighting areas, such as the subpar athletic facility and lack of football funding, which were hindering them from putting a competitive team on the field. The players are now back on the field after deciding that their message was received.
While at first glance, the university might look terrible in this situation, I just don’t see it that way. Quite frankly, that’s because I don’t feel bad for the players. First off, I assume that a number of them are getting full-ride scholarships to obtain a great college education. They are literally getting a free education and a free degree simply because they are very good at playing a game. The saddest part about this whole situation is that football is the only thing that the players seem to be concerned about.
I’m sorry, but the odds of any of them making it in the NFL are slim to none. Grambling State has had only three draft picks in the past 13 years. The last one taken was Jason Hatcher in 2006 by the Dallas Cowboys. As that commercial about student athletes used to say, “Almost all of them will go pro in something other than sports.” But the players seem to have forgotten this fact. All they care about is football. They are taking for granted the incredible academic opportunity they are being given.
This isn’t to say I think that full-ride scholarships are always enough to justify the hard work that college football players put in. For all the millions of dollars that college football takes in, the players deserve a much bigger cut than they are currently getting. But this is not the University of Alabama we are talking about. This is not the Grambling State of old. I do not know the exact numbers, but I cannot imagine that the current state of the Grambling football program is pulling in a ton of revenue (compared to other programs). So what more can these players expect?
Now the one thing I will give them is their case that the athletic facility is in such bad condition that it is actually presenting a health concern. If this is indeed the case, then something obviously has to be done. No collegiate facility should ever be in such bad shape that it is hazardous to student health. But since a school spokesman claims that local health department inspectors did not deem the athletic facilities to be a health hazard, I don’t know whom to believe.
But even if the facilities are in such bad shape, some of the blame has to fall on the players. Didn’t they visit the school before they went there? Didn’t they walk around the athletic facilities beforehand if they were planning on playing football there? And if the mildew is so bad, as they claim, wouldn’t they have seen this? Assuming they were smart enough to do all this, why not try to go and play somewhere else? Did they think it was magically going to get better during their four years? If anything, given Grambling’s football program’s obvious decline over the past 20 or so years, they should have assumed conditions would get worse. And if even through all the program’s troubles, a player still had his heart set on playing there (because of family ties to the university or something else), then he has nothing to complain about. He knew exactly what he was getting into.
The players are also complaining that donations intended for the football program are being rejected because the university is only accepting donations that can be applied to the university or athletics as a whole. To me, this seems like a clear case of Grambling administration trying to move on from Grambling being viewed simply as a football school. They are trying to create the atmosphere of a more well-rounded institution. And I think this is great. BU has amazing athletics, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of BU. We are a tremendous academic institution first and foremost. And if this truly is Grambling’s intention, then I commend it.
The players of Grambling State University have lost sight of what’s important. Essentially, none of them have a future in football, so they should focus more on the academic opportunity that their athletic gifts have given them. And if the situation is so bad that they just can’t take it, then leave. Go play somewhere else. Do something that’s actually proactive about it.
Oh, and they’re complaining about having to pay for Gatorade and Muscle Milk. Are you kidding me? Cry me a freaking river. My math books each semester cost well over $500. Granted, I can usually just cheat and find free PDF’s online, but that’s beside the point. College is expensive, get used to it. Now shut up and go play some football.