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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph RogersIt has been bleak, and it has been dreary. The days have been moving as slowly, as if they were stuck in molasses. However, football fans persevered, because they knew that this weekend would finally come. The weekend that we have dreamed about is finally here. College football! Without it, many of us would not have lasted for another week.

Both UCLA and USC will be playing home games this Saturday. They will not be playing each other, and each of them will start the season with an hors d'oeuvre.

The San Jose State Spartans will be the tasty, tender dish served up to the Trojans.

However, even as the Trojans have fun with them, Pete Carroll is concerned about going back east to play Ohio State next Saturday. The Buckeyes will likely be favored, since the Trojans will be starting Matt Barkley, in just his second game. This will be, by far, his biggest game before his largest audience. Will there be jitters? Of course there will be, but the question is, will he be able to keep his composure? Carroll is sure that he can, and I also hope so, but I have my doubts.

UCLA is planning to dine on the San Diego Aztecs. It should be a pleasant meal, without any indigestion. However, it would not be a bad idea for the Bruins to have some Pepto-Bismol available, if they need it. Anyway, the important thing is that they are back.

 USC's cornerback Shareece Wright has been declared academically ineligible for the season. That happens when students will not take the time to do their assigned studies. The subjects that most of them take are not academically challenging. I will quote an article from the Los Angeles Times about UCLA football player Reggie Carter.

Reggie said, "When I was in the eighth grade, I barely had a 2.0 grade point average. Mama told me that I could not go to football practice. I told her that I was going anyway. She said, 'Go, but I'll call the police and have them bring you right back here.' There was never a quarter at Crenshaw high school where I wasn't on the honor roll." He is scheduled to graduate with a degree in sociology next spring.

 Looking back Carter has to feel fortunate that he had a parent who would give him the tough love that he needed to succeed. It is usually about the eighth or ninth grade, when gifted athletes begin to recognize their own talents. At that point their popularity increases, and teachers and parents become their fans. They are no longer required to do their studies, and they no longer have to follow the rules. They learn how to get by on charm and persuasion. They expect special treatment, and they usually get it. They discuss how one day they will become a Professional Superstar, and earn millions and millions of dollars. They also promise to share their bountiful wealth with their 'Real friends.' By the way, they won't. So, they get other students to do their schoolwork, and they beg teachers to give them at least a passing grade. In most cases, they are successful.

By the time that many of them are juniors or seniors, they have not developed any academic background, and they do not know how to study. Even if they have marginal grades, they know that they cannot pass the SAT. More than a few of them have had someone take examinations for them. Then, at some point their lack of academic development boomerangs on them, especially if they have to seek employment as something other than being a professional athlete. At that point for them, the solution is usually drugs, alcohol, or some criminal activity. Good athletes can also be good students. Allow me to encourage every parent, teacher and friend of a high school athlete, to do all that

you can to see that they keep up with their studies. School can be difficult, but it is manageable, if you don't get behind in your studies. When athletes don't do well academically, they often feel inadequate; suffer from low self-esteem, and a lack of self worth. They might try to compensate for that with outrageous behavior, and by creating as much controversy as they can. They are trying to suggest to the world, and to themselves, that their behavior is just a choice and not something that they're trying to use to cover their feelings of inadequacy. But when their careers are over, most of them cannot find employment of any kind. So, their problem then is, that they are well known, but there are also broke, and possibly deeply in debt. They're usually mostly alone, since their 'old fans' are now trying to associate themselves with the next potential superstar.

The point of this little rant is to say that your life will likely be much easier and better for you, if you take full advantage of every educational opportunity that is available to you. Then, if you also become a superstar, that will be the icing on the cake.


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