Playing amidst madness


Charlie Maricle

With the madness of March upon us a cloud of suspicion and controversy surrounds men’s collegiate basketball.

The academic fraud at Fresno State, the suspension of 12 Villanova players, the St. Bonaventure team quitting and the numerous accusations against Jim Harrick at Georgia have left the March faithful wondering what is going on.

A quick recap: Fresno State has been banned from NCAA tournament participation for academic fraud. Villanova suspended 12 players for the illegal use of a phone code (because the administration adheres to the 10-10-220 rule). The St. Bonaventure team voted to not participate in the rest of the season because their conference voided six of their games because an ineligible player was used. And Jim Harrick, who has been around controversy at two other schools, has been suspended and the school has pulled the team from conference and national tournament participation for fraud allegations from a former player.

All these things have tainted the most exciting month of basketball.

It is sad that people in and around a sport they claim to love, do so many things to jeopardize their participation in it.

Now I understand that a 18-20 year old kid does not understand nor care about the consequences of his or her actions. But someone must help them.

Someone must step up and tell them that, “If you do this then …”

But the blame is not taken away from the athlete. Because as an athlete these people have a greater responsibility to know what the rules are.

Athletes must know better.

People are not allowed to give athletes money. They are not allowed to do their classwork for them.

No matter how well intentioned some people are, the rules are not the same for athletes.

Is that unfair? I don’t think so.

If an athlete thinks it’s unfair, he or she should get out of that sport.

And no, that is definitely not unfair. Because there are plenty of out-of-shape sports writers that love the game more than some athletes and they would give their left buttocks for the chance to play it.

If some athlete thinks he or she deserves to play a sport, I would say, wake up and smell the sweat, sweetheart. There is an intramural player or fan out there that has more heart then you have talent. That heart and their talent, however little that may be, makes that person better than that athlete.

But as I said, athletes are not totally to blame. Coaches also must remain squeaky clean.

I understand that players are not always open with their coaches. And some illegal action may be done without the coach’s knowledge. The illegal action may not be intentional.

ESPN Radio had several coaches and guest analysts comment on the recent controversies. All said that no program is totally clean. They compared it to social laws, like speeding. Most people have broken some law. But that doesn’t mean it should slide.

So athletes, listen up. You are not the greatest thing to hit planet Earth. Others have dreamed of being in your shoes. Others have dreamed of playing the game you play. Someone loves your sport more than you. Never forget that.

So appreciate your abilities. And appreciate your fans.

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