I have been feeling uneasy about sports lately, so when I sat down to read the morning sports page and came across an article entitled "College Basketball's Latest Move: Quit" I wasn't surprised to notice my blood pressure rise. The article takes a hard look at a number of college student athletes (specifically, male basketball players) who have chosen to forfeit their scholarships and a year of eligibility to transfer to another school due to a variety of reasons. Upon finishing the article I found myself more frustrated as the writer did not answer the key question the article raised: "what is going on in sports culture that's causing this migration?" But none the less, I would recommend the read as it provides some insight into a growing trend not only men's college basketball but in sports, in general.
The article reports that over 400 student athletes transferred in 2008 and while there may be various reasons for those transfers, since this article is highlighting the disenfranchised male student athletes, it does beg the question of how many of those 400 were men. Which leads to a follow-up question of "what's going on in the subculture of male athletics that is creating this trend that allows them to quit when the going gets tough?" As the article reports, most of these guys transfer because they lost their starting position to someone BETTER. Instead of "man-ing up" by taking responsibility for it, these guys are developing a complex that they are more important than their teammates and are rallying behind an old mantra with a twist: "take this scholarship and SHOVE IT!"
As I alluded to earlier, over past several years I have had a love-hate relationship as a fan and participant with sports. I have even considered stop watching or participating in sports for good. However, at the very core I believe sports are intrinsically good as they provide both a healthy outlet for many to work off stress and a safe space to gain insight about life experience as there is as much to learn in the success of winning as there is in the failure of loosing. In America, sports over the past 50 years has taken on a life of its own and has developed its own culture filled with varieties of heroes, villains, jokers, and plagues. Lately, I feel like I have been observing more of the villains and plagues as they are getting far more run in media and it has me concerned that we have strayed too far away from the good of sports.
My biggest concern is that these trends in sports culture will start to trickle down to high school and younger athletics. I would like to believe there is more purity in the value of sports for these ages but I have become more aware of the exploitation of youth sports and it sickens me. Earlier this week I was listening to a high school player that was fed up with losing and was calling out the attitude/ work ethic of his fellow players. Not once did he take any responsibility for his own part in the team's problems. His coach benched him for a game for yelling at fellow players during a practice and showing disrespect to the coach. This young man reported that he didn't plan to travel to the next game and was considering quiting the team all together. I don't know what to do about the problems (villains & plagues) I'm seeing in college and professional sports, but I'm certain there is something we can do with young men like this in high school sports to curb this attitude before it grows into something worse.
As always, I'm curious what you think... Is this a failure of coaches, parents, fans or the players themselves? And what can we learn from it so that we don't continue to make this mistake?