Saturday, September 19, 2009

U. Michigan and the “Optional” Practices

U of Michigan's

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

The University of Michigan football team has a storied tradition when it comes to winning. The program is equally storied when it comes to making money by putting athletes on the field no matter what. This football factory rivals the other bastion of athletic exploitation down the road: my alma mater, The Ohio State University.

It was recently unearthed that The University of Michigan has been using "optional" practices as a way to push athletes against their will. Players and their families have reported that any athlete who doesn't attend the "optional" practices has a strong likelihood of being punished by the team.

I have just one question: why is anyone surprised? The only thing surprising to me about the University of Michigan case is that someone is actually willing to testify against the university. I am simply stunned that the players are bold enough to stand up for their rights in light of the fact that there are extreme penalties for athletes who have the audacity to think for themselves.

For college athletes, loyalty to the NCAA is not a choice. The officials who run college sports serve as the judge, jury and executioner in all cases related to athletic conduct. Like Michael Vick's pit bulls, athletes within the NCAAsystem are domesticated, indoctrinated and brainwashed from the minute they set foot on a college campus.

The same way that many major retailers look the other way when five year olds are employed in third-world factories, the NCAA doesn't do a very good job of enforcing the standards within its very own rulebooks. The only standards that seem to be applied strictly are those that keep the athletes and their families away from the multi-billion dollar revenue-generating machine that pays for the massive salaries of college football coaches. This is nothing less than a slap in the face to the players and their families, who give so much on the field.


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