Thursday, January 31, 2008

At what cost?

The past week The Seattle Times has run a series on the University of Washington's 2000, Rose Bowl winning, football team. Some of these team members included a rapist, a attempted murderer and a man who repeatedly beat his wife. I don't want to delve too much into the articles because they are something that everyone should read for themselves because they are truly fascinating articles. I wouldn't be surprised if they got a Pulitzer nomination (if not win).

But what these articles also did besides spurn lots of anger and frustration towards the UW, the football players, the King County prosecutors, the media and everyone else in Seattle during the time, it got people talking. And it has led to the discussion of course of how much more important is athletics to other activities and school.

A recent debate that two friends had the other night has stuck with me ever since I heard it. And what has really got me was the use of the word "commitment." I have no doubt in my mind that being a student-athlete is difficult and that athletes are committed to their sport. I know that being an athlete does not stop at the end of the game or practice and that at any moment, if you mess up, someone is ready there to take over your spot. That is a lot of pressure.

But don't tell me that an athlete is more committed to their sport than I or others were/are committed to the newspaper. For three years the newspaper was my life. I missed birthdays, meals, hours (and hours) of sleep, classes, going to movies, concerts and all sorts of other things that you do with friends. I pulled all-nighters to make sure that the paper got published at time. Articles came home with me, I dreamt about layout nights! I prepared over the summer the upcoming year. I got into fights with friends over the newspaper. Please don't tell me I am not as committed as an athlete is to his/her sport. And I did it out of my passion for the paper, since unlike athletes I did not get a full ride. Yes, I did get some money taken off of my tuition, but my last year at the paper, I like many others on the paper, had a second job.

And especially at SU, athletes didn't have the pressure of the admin of the university to be 100% correct and if there was one error, be sure that it was going to be pointed out to you by Student Development, the provost, the president. When was the last time Father Sundborg went to athletic event (which, is a total different issue and I think he should be going to more games and showing support). Don't mess with me about my (or others) commitment to the paper.

But not only did this series bring up the issue of commitment, but it also got me thinking even more about how unfair women's sports are treated in comparison to men's sports. I was watching The Heart of the Game last night and besides the many frustrations I just became increasingly aware, that is a female student-athlete is a parent she will not get treated the same way as a male. Just, look at the UW football team, how many of them were married or had children and they still got recruited for college. But the moment that Darnellia Russell became pregnant, the college offers stopped coming. And, man, what a phenomenal basketball player she is.

But yet, we give consistent offenders, who never change, as many chances that they want because I believe that they are males, but yet here is a girl who took her second chance and ran with it. Who, raised her grades, became a better player and maintained being a mom as well and what do we give her, having to play a community college because she is now tainted goods.

And there are still people out there who think athletes are treated just fine and fair ...

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