Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mimi From Memphis Won't Play This Game.

When you walked into my office, I noticed you were wearing the expensive, silky workout gear with the school logo. Was it your obvious height - I mean you ducked down to get through my doorway? Was it your lean frame - you even look fast? Were you all bulked up - I know we're starting a wrestling them - or maybe it was the ever-present baseball cap. In other words, I knew at that moment "this is a student athlete."

I also noticed it was two weeks into the semester. I listened as you explained there was confusion about what classes you were enrolled in, and tried not to smile at the way you looked at me when I asked if you had been attending someone else's class. No?'re in that new program - play sports, skip class. I know it worked so well for you in high school. And you have that smile. You're smooth in the way you talk to me. No problem, right?

You assume it's okay with me that you don't even crack the book. You assume that I'll pass you because you've got a scholarship. It's worse than that. You assume that I don't care that the college will let you play with lousy grades, that the coach will turn a blind eye because you get our name in the paper. You assume that I'm fine with knowing that two years from now we'll be done with you, we'll have all those trophies, and you'll have zip, squat, nada. You assume it will be okay with me that I won't see you in the NFL or the NBA or any of the other alphabet areas - I'll see you in Wal-mart stocking shelves because you never learned how to do anything but make a basket or run a race. You assume that I think it's fine that we're taking advantage of you while all the while you think you're getting away with something.

It's not okay with me. It pisses me off. I see you as valuable. I see you as worthwhile. I'll sit with you for hours and teach you to read, teach you to write, convince you that there's a serious need for a back-up plan because I believe in you.

That's what I told you that first day. That's what I tell you every time we talk. I'll do anything except play into the game where we cajole you, keep you around, suck the youth out of you, and toss you aside when someone taller/faster/stronger comes along. Hate me if you want, but I refuse to ignore that you are a STUDENT athlete.