After several days of finger-pointing and hand-wringing in the media, Luke DeCock’s Oct. 24 sport column “ UNC’s situation reignites a debate” rightly addresses the core issue in the UNC mess: the compatibility of academics and big-time university athletics where winning, at all costs, is all that matters.
After graduating from UNC, I was fortunate to attend graduate school at an Ivy League college. They played all the major sports there, and even though the crowds were smaller and network TV didn’t bother to cover them, the unbridled enthusiasm, spirit and excitement at football games were every bit as fervent as you’d find on Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium. Best of all, it was authentic because the Jumbotrons were missing, along with the pounding piped-in music and fireworks.
And the best thing was that the athletes in those days were truly students, there to learn and not just, as the euphemism goes, to “make it the next level.” It wasn’t about money or fame or agents, it was about competing, and perhaps winning, for your college.
Fortunately, there are scattered colleges and even a few major universities that have managed to sustain these simple values. Maybe it’s time we all did.