(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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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is Cam Newton's Father Really the First Parent Who Sought Money from a School?

Cecil Newton, Sr., admitted that he sought money from Mississippi State.

Is this really all that novel? Didn't the SEC have a big scandal where Tennessee turned in Alabama because, allegedly, school boosters were paying high school coaches to steer players to their favorite schools? Isn't this possible a corollary to that? Or, does everyone operate under a NCAA-instilled illusion (delusion?) that every program is clean, that every college football player can do the work (Michael Lewis seemed to suggest otherwise in some short references in The Blind Side), that every player will progress to a meaningful degree so that he won't be parking cars or busing tables when his playing days are over?

Boosters with bags of cash.

Coaches shaking hands with their palms up.

Parents of kids of modest means who see big-time schools about to make huge bucks off of, among other things, the labors of their kids, seeking to get greased (especially when at times it's an open question whether the school really cares about the kid's education, despite the publicity to the contrary about scholar-athletes).

Look, no one operates under any illusion that big-time college sports are like extracurricular activities in middle school, where (presumably, or, at least where I live), kids aren't recruited, they just show up, and the best kids make the team and then the best among them get most of the playing time (there are a few asterisks here and there, such as the increasing pressure on kids to specialize on one and only one sport, but that warrants a discussion for another day). No, these schools go out and go after the best players. They want to win, they want to pack their stadiums, they want to sell merchandise and they want their football programs to fund the remainder of their athletic departments so that, among other things, they can comply with both the NCAA requirement that to have a DI program a school needs to field 8 DI teams and, also, Title IX, so that there are a commensurate number of women's teams. Lots of responsibilities, lots of pressure, and. . .

Lots of money changing hands.

So now Cam Newton is in the spotlight, he's the QB for an Auburn team that could win the national title. And, his father had his hand out.

It's not a good thing, but I doubt that it's unique.

The bigger question is, of the fathers and mothers who've had their hands out over the years, how many of them were obliged.

And by whom?


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