“You Mean We Have To Pay?” (And Me Making Something Out Of Nothing)

I really did think my Tiger-loving mind made up the whole thing.

Standing in line behind two Kansas Jayhawk basketball players tonight, I leaned over to the photographer I was working with and asked if he heard the same thing.

Brett nodded and repeated the words, “You mean we have to pay?”

That six-word question at a Lawrence burger joint stuck with me.

It wasn’t because the cashier looked at the two young men with an incredulous of-course-you-have-to-freaking-pay look on his face.  It wasn’t because the players adjusted their order to something less expensive and then fished every $1 bill they could find from their pockets.

It wasn’t even because those student-athletes were honestly surprised when the cashier answered, “Yes.”

It’s because they questioned payment in the first place.

MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING

I should point out that no one did anything wrong.  The cashier didn’t give away free food, and the players paid fair money for their order.

This also wasn’t a case of expecting free use of a car or paid apartment rent or anything more than a $20 dinner.  I know of media policies allowing reporters to accept free meals valued at less than $25.

This is not huge.

I also suspect it’s not rare.  You should know I’m a graduate of the University of Missouri and, therefore, saying I’m not a Jayhawk fan is quite conservative.  That being said, you can’t tell me Chase Daniel’s money was good at any restaurant within a 50-mile radius of Columbia when he donned the black and gold.

Regardless of the scope and that feeling of wink-wink pervasiveness, it’s telling…

THE UPSHOT

We have been inundated with story after story after story of NCAA student-athletes and their families receiving or trying to receive improper benefits for attending schools and playing sports in which they are truly gifted.

Jason Whitlock is right to call the current system corrupt (he uses awful strong wording for reporters).

The world is trying to figure out how to treat college athletes.  Undeniably, a small percentage of these young men and women are on the brink of untold millions of dollars as professional athletes.  Higher education institutions are providing the remaining vast majority with an invaluable, free education.  Then again, those athletes are also generating far more money for said institutions than the occasional dinner.

Round and round the debate goes.

I believe this is more a product of how we’ve treated the student-athletes than the athletes themselves, and that’s a disservice to those young men and women.  Who’s going to turn down the gifts (no matter the size) we’ve decided to shower on them?

However, what happens when that student-athlete comes to expect a free lunch?  Moreover, what happens when he or she questions not receiving one?

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One Response to ““You Mean We Have To Pay?” (And Me Making Something Out Of Nothing)”

  1. Danny Says:

    I. Hate. College. Sports.

    At least in the professional world, people are upfront about the money changing hands and the incredibly overpaid people involved.

    In the college world, it infuriates me that the schools which are involved in this joke of a system receive government money.

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