The following is a short piece by critically acclaimed American sports writer Jeff Pearlman:
The two people who started this site are loyalists to Iowa and Iowa State. They live and die with their teams; they fight for their teams; they desperately want their teams to compete for national championships in the myriad sports.
My question is this: Do they care—truly care—for the members of those teams?
I don’t mean to be crass, or assholic. But we have a major problem in Division I college sports, and it involves the chewing up and spitting out of our performers. We love (some would say worship) these young men when they arrive on campus, chock full o’ hype and pizazz and flair. We ask for their autographs, we pay $100 for their knockoff jerseys, we slap them five as they jog onto the court.
But then what?
Too often, once the cheering stops, these temporary superheroes turn invisible. They’re brought to campus from some of America’s roughest urban environments (anyone who hasn’t paid a visit to Gary, Indiana absolutely needs to); plucked from underfunded high schools with shoddy conditions, mediocre teachers and dropout rates in the 70-percent range. We give them a couple of years of glory, while suggesting they do their best in the classroom. If they’re the .0001 percent who reach the NBA—mazel tov! More often than not, however, they wind up without a diploma, without a sports career, buoyed by the memories of that 30-point game against Nebraska while stocking the shelves at Home Depot. Those fans who once treated them as Greek gods now glance awkwardly in the other direction, embarrassed to know that Superman has not turned into Clark Kent, but to something far worse: A failure. A loser. A product of our sinister eat-them-up-and-chew-them-out sports culture.
So root for Iowa!
Root for Iowa State!
Just be aware that while your cheering is appreciated, it will one day ring hollow through the hallways of a low-income housing development.
Where your hero now lives.
BCDivide would like to thank Jeff Pearlman for his fantastic short read on the reality of college athletes today. Jeff is author of The Bad Guys Won, Love Me Hate Me, Boys Will Be Boys, Thei Rocket That Fell To Earth, Sweetness, Sunshine and our personal favorite Gunslinger. Give Jeff a follow on Twitter @jeffpearlman and purchases one of his fantastic reads here: www.jeffpearlman.com