While you’ve been watching the Terps suffer some early losses this fall, the Towson University men’s basketball team has been quietly extending a school-record win streak over the last month.
Tag: college sports
I’d be willing to bet that 2013 marks the first year that “Johns Hopkins” and “basketball powerhouse” ever appeared in the same sentence — and even then, it’s not in reference to our beloved Blue Jays, but instead to the Hopkins alum who’s become the NCAA tournament’s most unlikely star. He’s smart, handsome, and good at what he does. And I can’t help wanting to punch him in the face, for no particular reason.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Towson’s new president, Maravene Loeschke, opted for a police escort of nearly two dozen officers when she revealed to the university’s baseball and men’s soccer players that she was cutting their teams.
Tomorrow night, Garrision Forest School will host “An Evening with Frank Deford” at 7 p.m. in the Garland Theater. (Book signing before the lecture, at 6 p.m.) He will speak on college athletics and women’s sports, among other sports-related topics.
From the GFS website:
Frank Deford, award-winning author, sportswriter, commentator, screenwriter, and Baltimore native, can be heard on NPR’s Morning Edition and seen on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. An accomplished writer, Mr. Deford has published 16 books, most recently, Bliss, Remembered, a love story set between the 1936 Berlin Olympics and World War II. Alex: The Life of a Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis, was made into a movie, as was his novel Everybody’s All-American. He remains intimately involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as chairman emeritus. Hailed by GQ magazine as “the world’s greatest sportswriter,” Mr. Deford has been affiliated with Sports Illustrated since 1962. Voted by his peers six times as “U.S. Sportswriter of the Year,” Mr. Deford serves Senior Contributing Editor for Sports Illustrated and has won numerous writing and broadcasting awards including an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award.
Look for Mr. Deford’s newest memoir, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, from Grove/Atlantic, Inc. this May. At the GFS book signing, selected titles of his previous books will be available for purchase.
The event is free and open to the public. For accommodations for people with disabilities, please email Peggy Tiffany at[email protected].R.s.v.p.
Like many parents in Baltimore, I’ve been intently following the trial of George Huguely, former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Cockeysville-native and Notre Dame Prep grad Yeardley Love, also a former UVA lacrosse player. As the mother of two pre-teen children who are being raised in an environment that ranks the gifted student-athlete above most everybody else, the tragic story of Huguely and Love gives reason to worry as I look to my own children’s futures.
I’ll admit that my husband and I have, since our children were about six, helped them strap on sports gear and have spent countless hours on the sidelines rooting them on. We also tirelessly review spelling words with them, help them figure out math problems, and push them to complete book reports. But we’re not living entirely in the moment.
We sometimes wonder how all this will play out down the road. Will our kids get into the college of their choice? Will their athletic careers end after high school, or will we have an opportunity to cheer them on in college too? What we rarely consider is, after all this preparation, our kids — successful and well-prepared as they may seem — could very well wind up routinely spending their college weekends in a drunken haze. If it happens to elite athletes attending a prestigious university, then why not to our kids too?
As an outsider who was neither a top-flight athlete nor scholar at a prestigious university, I do know — it’s impossible not to know, if you are from Baltimore — that UVA’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are two of the best in the nation. I’m also aware that UVA is one of the nation’s most prestigious public universities. Presumably, both Huguely and Love worked hard to earn coveted spots on the top-ranked teams at the top-ranked university. It appears both of them also fell easily into the recreational pursuits that seem to come with the territory: heavy alcohol consumption. Sure, most college kids drink, but the athletic students most of all.
Sobering statistics bear this out. According to the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, the profile of college students most likely to binge drink are male, white, under 24 years of age, involved in athletics and members of a fraternity or sorority. In Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses (Thomas Nelson, 2005), author Henry Wechsler, Ph.D. writes that half of college athletes — 57 percent of men and 48 percent of women — are binge drinkers, and experience a greater number of alcohol-related harms than other students. Lacrosse players are implicated even further: A recent NCAA study found that they are the heaviest users of illicit drugs among college athletes.
It’s pretty clear that at UVA, as in other colleges across the nation, recreational drinking is an integral part of student-athletes’ social life. On more than one occasion during Huguely’s trial, references have been made to copious alcohol consumption prior to Yeardley’s death. In fact, it’s described as the primary backdrop to the students’ weekend. Prosecuting attorney Warner D. Chapman, speaking at the trial said that, “There was alcohol consumed in significant amounts…by all who were involved.” Chapman also stated that George Huguely, “had been drinking virtually nonstop since early that Sunday morning” before approaching Yeardley Love’s bedroom that evening. Trial lawyers are rightfully hung up on whether Huguely’s actions were pre-meditated. But as blitzed as he must have been when he approached Love’s bedroom, how’s anybody to know what his addled mind intended?
I’m sure it’s safe to say that neither Huguely nor his parents ever intended his actions to lead him where he is today. It’s not what parents envision for their children as they steer them along, supporting them through formative years on the athletic field and at the homework table. But as college cultural norms — exposed via this terrible tragedy — tell us, heavy drinking and the unintended consequences that can result from it are a very real, and sobering, possibility for young adults. Maybe it’s time to change that cultural norm. I’m open to suggestions.
Even having Bill Murray’s son as an assistant coach (and getting surprise visits from the First Family) hasn’t been able to help the Towson Tigers this year. This past week, the team lost to Georgia State (57-42), marking their eighteenth loss of the season.
Which is bad enough. But combine that with the teams nineteen (oof) losses last year, and the Tigers are on a roll — a bad roll! — losing 37 games in a row, and setting an NCAA Division I record.
The cards are stacked against the team; they play in the Colonial Athletic Association conference, which includes (relative) powerhouses like George Mason, Old Dominion, and last year’s Final Four surprises, VCU (go Rams!!!!). Maybe the team’s new head coach, Pat Skerry, will be able to turn things around.
Most of us bridle at the very thought — after all, college is a place that’s supposed to be safe from the rampant commercialism of pro sports. These kids are students as well as athletes, amateurs who compete in a system that’s more pure and noble than their counterparts in the pros. Right?
Not so, says Baltimore local Taylor Branch in a scathing new article in the Atlantic. “Two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence — ‘amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’ — are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes,” Branch asserts.
College athletics is big money these days, thanks to television licensing, merchandise sales, stadium ads, and shoe deals. Big football schools (Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Penn) earn as much as $80 million a year from their teams. The NCAA is “a spectacularly profitable cartel,” according to Branch. But if any of the players are caught actually profiting from their work, they get suspended, fined, or banned outright. Meanwhile, universities and corporations reap millions of dollars. And no one pretends that student athletes are getting much of an education, either.
It seems hard to justify the disparity: players (or their likenesses) show up on video games, on ESPNU, on giant billboards… and college players both current and former don’t get any money from it at all. Students from poor families earn their schools millions, and can’t afford to fly home to see their parents. The NCAA even fights against injured student athletes who file workmen’s comp insurance claims.
The hypocrisy is rampant: “At the start of the 2010 football season, A. J. Green, a wide receiver at Georgia, confessed that he’d sold his own jersey from the Independence Bowl the year before, to raise cash for a spring-break vacation. The NCAA sentenced Green to a four-game suspension for violating his amateur status with the illicit profit generated by selling the shirt off his own back. While he served the suspension, the Georgia Bulldogs store continued legally selling replicas of Green’s No. 8 jersey for $39.95 and up,” Branch notes.
Domonique Foxworth, a Raven who used to play for the University of Maryland, put it bluntly: “Money surrounds college sports, and every player knows those millions are floating around only because of the 18-to-22-year-olds.” But only a small percentage of those players will end up as high-earning pro athletes.
Should these players have a right to some of the profits they’ve generated? Or would monetizing college sports just make them even more crassly commercial? It’s hard to think of a good solution here, but Branch makes a persuasive argument that the current system isn’t working.