Loren Smith’s Sports Column: Super Dawg

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

There will be a Georgia player in the forthcoming Super Bowl for the

23rd consecutive season on February 11 th in Las Vegas. This is a record

which is likely to continue, given the latent draft success of Bulldog players.

Alabama has the most players on NFL rosters of any school with 57.

Next is Ohio State with 47, followed by Georgia with 46. Rounding out the

top five, LSU has 43 players in the NFL and Michigan has 38.

Most sports fans are aware of the big paydays professional athletes

experience but also realize that many of them wind up broke as they make

far more bad decisions with their money than they do on the playing fields.

 

The best way to handle easy money is to not spend it, but there are

those sad tales that reflect mind boggling abuse of cash. Like the player

with the New Orleans Saints who owned eight cars at one time. “That

makes sense,” quarterback Archie Manning cracked. “That way he gets

fleet coverage with his auto insurance.”

 

A player shows up for “work,” and he is pampered throughout the

day. No cost for food and drink. There is smorgasbord dining in the locker

 

room from the time a player shows up and is available until he leaves at the

end of the day.

The payout for the players on the winning Super Bowl team this year

will be $157,000. Nice pay for a day’s work, especially when you consider

that only 15.5 per cent of Americans annually make between $100,000 –

$149,999.

 

When kids are on campus, they must work to keep up their grades for

eligibility requirements and time spent on the practice field is demanding

and challenging.

But think about what they have beyond the headlines. Most of all,

they get a free education if they want it. Unfortunately, too many don’t give

that opportunity priority. There has never been a greater tradeoff in U. S.

history than for a kid to play a sport and get a free education in return.

Let’s not lose sight of that wonderful circumstance.

Then there is free medical and free dental for athletes on scholarship.

They get a clothing allowance and a travel allowance. Cost of attendance

consideration means that they make at least $10,000 a year for playing

their sport.

 

Then there are the Pell grants which for kids who come from tough

economic backgrounds, are given compensation to make sure they never

have to worry about the basics from Sunday night supper to toothpaste.

Then there is the latent name, image and likeness development

which brings about more financial opportunity. Who has it better on a

college campus today than a football player? It is the same for basketball

players and athletes in other sports.

There are players out there who are advocating for free agency for

college athletes. There are some who want to turn college programs into a

franchise type function.

While I am not sure where we are going, I know that I will never

accept such a concept. We need to make sure that the classroom remains

part of the process.

We should never lose sight of the fact that while times have changed

and we have had to make serious adjustments, it still resonates with many

of us that photos of our Saturday heroes decked out in their letter jackets

and walking the campus with books in hand and a pretty coed keeping

them company is a scene that should always be a constant.

 

Maybe we should remind ourselves of what the Ivy League did years

ago. They did away with athletic scholarships, but they still have football.

Harvard versus Yale is still a big deal. I have taken the T from downtown

Boston out to Cambridge for the big game.

The players were eager to perform for alma mater. The band had as

much gusto and enthusiasm as bands on any campus across the country.

The cheerleaders were delightfully fresh-faced and the cheering was as

lusty as it is in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Ann Arbor, Eugene, Lubbock, Austin

and Norman.

I certainly am advocating that, but I would much prefer that over free

agency and collegiate franchises. It is time for sanity to rear its most valuable head.