What We Forget About College Athletes

With each new social media outlet and invasion of privacy into our lives and the lives of athletes, the tiniest mistake, imperfection, or oversight is broadcast to the world. Private conversations are routinely recorded and broadcast to the world, scandalous photos come out every few minutes, and who knows how many regrettable interviews were given outside of the locker room now that everyone has a video camera in their pocket. Betting on sports has become a process of picking a team you enjoy rooting for, then scouring tweets and posts to get the inside track. It really is insanity.

Despite being amateur athletes, college students, superstars, and future millionaires, NCAA athletes are also human beings. Usually young ones, who are thrust into a life many of us cannot imagine. On top of all of that – they are kids. Let’s not fool ourselves, we have all been dumb kids at some point. Calm down with all of the hate, trash talk, and punishments for minor offenses. These are kids playing a sport they love, they want to win just as badly as fans want to win their sports bets. It’s not life or death, but maybe just life itself.

Make no mistake, major offenses and crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Being a dumb kid is no excuse for violent criminal activity, but a lot of these cases do not involve violent criminal activity.

It is probably safe to assume that nearly 100% of college students were at a party at some point where there was underage drinking and probably some minor drugs. And probably nearly 100% of these kids do not end up as the centerpiece to controversy with their picture posted all over ESPN the next morning. Some did. Just for being a typical college kid with enormous responsibilities to seemingly millions of people.

Ask yourself this. Should these athletes miss out on the true college experience when there is a 98.4% chance they are not going to be a professional athlete? The answer is no. Teenagers should not be held responsible for how a program is perceived, but should be treated fairly.

Assuredly, this is a slippery slope in a world that is full of excuses these days, and it is difficult for some people to accept this behavior, but kids are going to be kids. They’re going to make mistakes. It is time we stop acting like an oversight of an 18-year old running back having a beer with friends is going to determine the next 10 years of a football program. It’s not.

Regardless of whether they are paid or not, these individuals are star athletes. There is no question about that. Life in the limelight comes with being a start athlete, but it is unfair to put every one of a player’s actions under the microscope for public scrutiny. Maybe it’s time we all took a step back and appreciated the efforts of these kids in bringing so much excitement and joy into our sporting lives.