Giving Athletes Props

    You know, going to school is not that easy. At least it’s hard to go to school and excel, to get all or mostly A’s. Some can do it without any effort. Some can do it, but they need to work really hard at it. I fall under a third group: those who have to work really hard and have to have some luck to pull respectable marks.

    Education ain’t easy. That brings me to my point: What the UCSD student athletes do is a pretty remarkable thing. They balance school and sports, and many of them excel at what they do.

    Athletes have often been looked down upon as a group that is good on the field but that just gets by in the classroom. At times, this holds true. Man, I knew some people back in high school who could sink a three-pointer blindfolded but had trouble multiplying one by itself (Um, the answer is one, I think).

    This also holds true at certain universities around the country. Jocks just barely stay on the team, just barely keep scholarships, just barely remain able to go on and make millions in the NBA or NFL.

    This is not the case so much any longer. More and more, schools are demanding excellence. I mean, look at Duke University: national champs in men’s hoops. And this is DUKE of all places. They don’t just let anyone attend. You have to have a head on your shoulders.

    Stanford is another example. Excellent basketball program. Freaking geniuses in the classroom. You don’t go there unless you have some brain power, and the athletic ability is secondary.

    Well, coming back around to our neck of the woods, some day the above scenarios could happen here. Look out. I’m about to use the S word — scholarships.

    After thinking a bit, scholarships could work here. We could be a Division II Duke or Stanford. Excellence in both the classroom and on the field.

    Many are against scholarships for athletes. Many feel it takes away from the prestige of an educational institution. Many fear the thought of dumb jocks just getting by, being enrolled because they can kick a soccer ball.

    Well, let’s just hold them to the same academic standards. Actually, that is how it is now — no matter how well someone plays tennis, he has to meet academic requirements to become a Triton.

    So give them scholarships, at least partial scholarships. You have no idea what athletics can do for a college. If the athletic program is excellent (such as ours is), it adds prestige. It gets you on ESPN. Then more people want to come here, and “”Triton”” could become a household word.

    The college experience is not complete without heading out to the games to support your school.

    Is it unfair to give scholarships? Not if athletes keep their grades up. Not if they add a dimension to the campus that no one else can bring, which athletics as a whole certainly does.

    I am not sure, though, how they would be paid for. The failure of the fee referendum last week sends a message. There will be difficulty keeping things going, let alone paying those who are most important to athletics, the athletes.

    Without scholarship of some sort some day in the next few years, we may quit being competitive. It is hard to compete with schools with scholarships.

    Are student athletes better than us? I don’t know. I mean, many of you can sit there and say that you got straight A’s your entire school career, but what else did you do? Get out there and do something.

    Others of you can say you graduated with a 3.75 and belonged to some random club, but does it matter?

    Hell, I could sit here and say I have a B average and was sports editor at the Guardian. Looks OK on a resume, but nothing to tell the grandkids about.

    But student athletes, like members of the women’s soccer team, can say they graduated from UCSD and were national champions. Let’s reward them for their excellence and hard work.

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