College football has become something of a business. Players are commoditized while putting their body on the line for absolutely nothing but recognition and the love of the game, especially since not every college football player will become an NFL’er making millions of dollars.
Which is why our UCLA football players have signed a petition to protect fellow footballers — and other student-athletes — from having their education murdered. From the LAT:
State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) has some heavy hitters backing one of his bills.
More than 70 players with the UCLA Bruins football team have signed a petition supporting a Padilla measure that would require universities that don’t renew a student’s athletic scholarship to provide equivalent financial assistance so the student can stay in school and get a degree. SB 1525 would also require university athletic programs to better help cover medical expenses of injured student athletes.
Padilla said California’s 12,000 college athletes helped generate more than $687 million dollars in income in 2010, but when players are injured they are sometimes left to struggle financially on their own.
Basically, SB 1525 keeps athletes in school, even when they cease to become athletes.
Indeed, many athletes across the nation pretty much lose their only reason to go to a university in the first place once they’re cut from their squad: a scholarship.
I remember going to a National Signing Day event at Oceanside High School in 2010 where five football players signed to SDSU and another to Oregon State. For background, Oceanside High School (home of the late Junior Seau) is in a pretty rough area, surrounded by underprivileged (yet, largely supportive) communities. All six of the mothers (and a few of the fathers) broke into tears when speaking to reporters about how important these scholarships were. Five of the mothers had said that their son might not have gone to college otherwise, because of their financial situation.
We’re sure many of the mothers of UCLA football players have said the same thing.
And for these athletes to all of a sudden drop out of school and not get their degree because they’re no longer with a team? For the school to say, “Well, our team doesn’t need you, so you can go f**k off”? We’re going to be diplomatic and simply say that’s wrong.
Of course, some a-holes in Sacramento and the UC, the contrarian bastards they are, oppose:
University of California leaders oppose Padilla’s bill, warning it would cost the system $3 million annually. When an athletic scholarship is not renewed, it is a rare thing and usually a result of disciplinary actions, academic eligibility or student athletic performance, wrote Nadia Leal-Carrillo, legislative director for UC in a letter to the Legislature.
Oh, screw you, Nadia Leal-Carrillo.
Considering scenarios from players who need those scholarships is crucial (something our dim-witted legislative director doesn’t know how to do, it seems). Players get dropped from teams for disciplinary actions that is pretty specific to the team. If a player is, say, late to practice regularly and gets cut because of that, they’re likely to lose their scholarship and lose a shot at earning a college degree. If a player can’t compete due to injuries suffered while on the team and winds up being cut as a result, the player can kiss his scholarship goodbye. If a player fails a class — just one — and manages B’s in his other classes? He’ll essentially have his opportunity for a college degree revoked, situation be damned.
It also doesn’t help the coaches either, who have the daunting task of cutting players. If the coaches understand each of their players’ situations — and they should — just how reluctant will they be in cutting a player who keeps coming to practice late, knowing that it’ll mean the end of an opportunity to take advantage of the shot at upward social mobility?
We all know that college football players — and student-athletes in general — bring in serious money for universities, and the community in general. The least we can do is make sure they can get educated when unfortunate circumstances arise.
So good on you, UCLA football players, for taking an initiative to protect yourselves and other student-athletes as well. Sadly, some people don’t give a crap.