(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Sunday, January 02, 2005

Don't Read This Post Before A Meal

Because if you do, you might not be able to eat.

That is, if you really think that there are a ton of good causes out there that are really worthy of your charitable dollars more so than the one identified on the link below. Such as, by way of example (as I'm sure I'm forgetting many wonderful causes) helping the tsunami victims, helping cure a variety of diseases, helping underpriviliged children. Legions of great causes, and I do hope that you did your bit at the end of the year to support as many as you could with as much money as you could spare.

But this one takes the cake, or, perhaps better said, the beignet.

That is, if you don't choke on your food reading about it.

I never knew that there was so much money to spare in Louisiana. I never knew that the best minds came out of the Bayou State, that it's a leader in high tech and biotech innovation, that its high school students are in the Top 10 nationally in every category. But it must be true, and the mainstream media (read, the righty bloggers' code word for the New York Times, the Washington Post, most other non-red state dailies and all TV networks but Fox) has to be deliberately misleading the public. After all, it must be true if the people of Louisiana had $3 million to spare to build a habitat for the football team's mascot.

After all, who would spend $3 million on a house for the mascot unless there were BMW's in most Baton Rouge and New Orleans driveways, if major corporations didn't have their headquarters in those cities, Lafayette and Monroe, if L.S.U. students weren't taking the lead in Rhodes scholarships and if the states' universities weren't at the vanguard of creating new ways to solve all sorts of modern problems? It must be that that's the case to have enough left over to spend $3 million on a house for the mascot, musn't it? The people of the state must have plenty of money to burn, and Louisiana is the next "hot" state out there. It just has to be.

After all, L.S.U. spent $2.3 million a year on the football coach's salary and offered to increase Nick Saban's take-home pay to $4 million a year to keep him at the school and not lose him to the Miami Dolphins. So what's an extra $3 million from among friends?

Of course, now that I stop writing in a tone more suitable for The Daily Show, the sad truth is that L.S.U. graduated 40% of its players as recently as a year ago. So while coaches make millions and coordinators have agents, the kids aren't getting degrees. And, no doubt, there are other burning social issues in Louisiana (as there are in the other 49 states) that could use the $3 million more. They all could.

I am sure that Mike the Tiger and his predecessors are wonderful mascots. And, no doubt, Mike the Tiger is a solid part of the lore that is L.S.U. football.

But $3 million from boosters for a house for the tiger?

Whoever replaces Nick Saban should ask for at least double that for a housing allowance if the mascot, who, last I heard, doesn't have x-and-o responsibility and isn't the chief recruiter for football players, got $3 million for his digs. (How many of the players come from families whose houses cost more than $300,000? $30,000?)

Of course, the $3 million would be better spent put into a fund to help create a tuition pool for former football players to come back and get their degrees in meaningful subjects once their glory days are over, once the relatively full-time job of being a D-I college football player is over, and once, yes, their eligibility is up. Once, yes, when they're no longer "really" needed in Baton Rouge.

But don't bet on that happening any time soon.

Players, apparently, have a playing life-span in Baton Rouge of no more than five years.

Mike the Tiger, apparently, will live on forever.


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