Column: Education lost in athleticism

David Nelson

Wednesday, college football fans across the country will flip on their television screens to see if some of the big-name college football prospects will head to their favorite teams.

This day is one full of wonder and excitement for many, but is disturbing — on far too many levels — for someone, like me, to enjoy.

Teenagers will go before crowded audiences of reporters, photographers and camera crews to announce where they will be continuing their education.

Because college is still about furthering education, remember?

Media outlets criticized Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones — who helped the Buckeyes win the College Football Playoff National Championship last month — for a tweet he sent out his freshman year of college in 2012.

“Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL,” Jones tweeted. “We ain’t come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS.”

The message wasn’t elegant by any means, but it carried a strong point.

National Signing Day reminds everyone who watches that athletic abilities are more important than whatever intelligence these players carry in the classroom.

The sports world doesn’t want to hear about a quarterback’s stellar 4.0 GPA — it only cares whether or not the player can drop back and deliver an accurate ball into double coverage.

The NCAA website states that these young athletes are “students first, athletes second,” yet the hubbub surrounding these players before they arrive on campus appeals to the contrary.

An often-yielded excuse by those against paying college athletes is that it would destroy the sacredness of amateurism.

Amateurism died when these athletes began being paraded around like show ponies.

 And it’s not just the media pushing the system; it’s the coaches, too.

Yesterday, Fox Sports reporter Bruce Feldman tweeted about some of the ethics surrounding recruitment.

“Spoke to a head coach at a Top25 program this morning about recruiting: ‘It’s dirty. Guys are so unethical, and it gets worse every year,’” Feldman wrote in the tweet.

In short, these football players aren’t viewed as students trying to find a decent college to attend, but like food at a grocery store.

Look no further than the recruiting scandals at schools like Oregon and Southern Methodist University.

For those who plan on tuning in to Wednesday’s coverage of National Signing Day, just remember that these young people are student-athletes.

Student comes first.