Kids these days. When I was in school…

So the P5 conferences announced with some fanfare yesterday a series of proposals to give student-athletes back some of their free time that has been steadily encroached upon over the years in the name of amateurism because college coaches are paid ever increasing big bucks to win.  They even gave the proposals a catchy name, Flex 21.

What’s interesting about the proposals themselves is how they illustrate the degree to which these kids have had their time in college taken away from them.

FLEX 21

In Season
Current Rule
• No countable athletically related activities during one calendar day per week
• Travel day related to athletics participation may be considered a day off

Proposed Changes
• Travel days may not count as days off

Academic Year
Current Rule
• No countable athletically related activities during two calendar days per week outside the season.

Proposed Changes
• 14 Additional Days off. Can be used during or outside the season

Overnight
Current Rule
• No countable athletically related activities between midnight and 5 a.m.

Proposed Changes
• 8-hour block of free time, any time between 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Postseason
Current Rule
• Varies by sport

Proposed Changes
• 7-day recovery time

I’m sure many of you are prepared to jump up and loudly proclaim that this is what student-athletes bargained for when they received their scholarships, but I’m just wondering how many other college kids on scholarship have had to surrender their lives to such an extent.

In all, it’s pretty pathetic.  Good thing playing D-1 football is not a job.

33 Comments

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33 responses to “Kids these days. When I was in school…

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    High Schools are suffering the mission creep too.

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    • Got Cowdog

      No kidding. Football, Baseball, Softball, Basketball are no longer seasonal. They have all become year round.

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    • ASEF

      Ya think?

      My son hopes to play varsity basketball next year. He started on JV as a freshman. So what’s his summer been like?

      School ended June 10. He was at a basketball camp on June 12-16. The following week he had football practice from 9-12 and basketball practice from 6-8. Then he went to a team camp June 26-29. Came home to a 5 hour 7 on 7 tournament.

      Got the weekend of the 4th off. Now he’s at his 3rd basketball camp of the summer. When he gets back, football and basketball will occupy 25 hours of his weeks until mandatory football practice starts August 1. These are all optional you know, except I have to notify the coaches in writing (text) if he isn’t going to be at a practice.

      During the school year, he will have practice after school every day for one of three sports, unless they are travelling to a game or track meet.

      And he feels like he’s falling behind – because four of his friends are travelling to cities 2 hours away (4 hour round trips) 3 times a week to practice with AAU basketball teams. That doesn’t include the two weekends a month during the travel basketball season at tournaments as much as 8 hours away.

      It is INSANE how much emphasis people are putting on sports. And as a parent, it puts you in an awful position. How do you put brakes on it without straining your kid’s relationship with his coaches – which just bommerangs and becomes a strain on your own relationship? The only thing we’ve had any success as parents is discouraging him from committing himself solely to basketball, as some of his friends have done. But we’re also not kidding ourselves – he took an enormous amount of crap last fall when he chose not to play football, and he would prefer not to repeat that experience. As for track, his basketball coach is also his track coach. Can’t be disappointing him. (Note: he’s a great guy and good influence. We’re grateful. We’ve seen at some other schools what it could like.)

      The more I experience sports through the eyes of a parent, the more it changes my perspective on things.

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      • DawgFlan

        I have young boys, and I am seriously hoping they don’t have top-level athletic talent, especially if combined with a peer/mentor group like you stated above. The 5 year old is already obsessed with golf, so lessons and camps are on the horizon there, but hopefully it turns into a lifelong hobby as opposed to scholarship/professional obsession. I would rather my kids be math-letes that only have to travel for debate tournaments and band competitions, even if that means I have to work a few extra years to (help?) pay their college tuition. They would likely have more lifelong skills to help them succeed academically and professionally than if they spent 20+ hours a week play with balls. As you said, the emphasis on sports is insane.

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        • You got a 5 year old obsessed with golf? Mine is only obsessed with playing the occasional minion game on my phone.😉

          ASEF, hope you are doing well career wise, because as you know that stuff ain’t free. My daughter wants to play in a club league in volleyball in the summer but it is seriously around 4K. And sadly, you can tell when her team plays a team who’s parents can afford that stuff. It ain’t close.

          So i’ll be navigating those waters even more in a few years with 4 &5 year old boys. Wish me luck –especially with my career so I can afford all that if necessary.

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          • DawgFlan

            Oh yes, a 5-year old that begs me to take him to the range, watch golf on TV (makes me record it if its nap time), and asks me to buy golf magazines at the store…

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          • ASEF

            It’s waaaay worse for girls than boys.

            My daughter went through more $$$ in one season of cheerleading than my son went through in five seasons of travel basketball – largely because the coaching was free and the coach had access to a local high school gym. Girls’ youth sports tend to be driven more by programs that charge some hefty fees.

            And no, I’m not including the $3,000 in smashed elbow from cheerleading suffered when the coach put my 10 year old daughter at the top of a pyramid with high school girls who apparently decided that since she was so much smaller than the normal girls they didn’t have to pay attention.

            #stillbitter

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        • ASEF

          You can get those things in sports – but it’s a lot harder when the emphasis by 9th grade is who is already being recruited or on this list or playing or that team.

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  2. I do not think Harbaugh will go for any of this crap. He will find some loopholes as he had always seem to discover.

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  3. 92 grad

    The power of fame and fortune. Anyone gladly lives a life dedicated to hobbies or interests, even careers. When the carrot is fame and fortune people will do anything, human nature. Students inspired in the law, medicine, education, engineering work just as hard – but they end up with a degree. It’s all just life.

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  4. JCDAWG83

    The 7 day recovery time rule in the postseason will make the NCAA basketball tournament last until July 4th and the College World Series will not wrap up until mid September.

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  5. PTC DAWG

    All are forced to play too. Choices people..choices.

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  6. Gravidy

    I have learned to mostly stay silent on this subject, but (against my better judgment) I am going to take issue with the way you framed your argument, Senator. No college kids of any sort “have had to surrender their lives” to any extent. Yes, I’m one of your crotchety old “get offa my lawn” readers who is “prepared to jump up and loudly proclaim that this is what student-athletes bargained for when they received their scholarships”.

    Having said all of that, let me say this: I am sympathetic to the notion that “amateurism” ain’t all its cracked up to be in college football. When the various college football bigwigs stand up and talk about making things better “for the kids”, I agree that they are almost universally full of crap. Certainly, there must be a better way to get some of the money generated by college football into the pockets of the players who help generate it.

    But having said that, let me say this: We can talk about what is “fair” and how things “should be”. We can all beat our chests and show how compassionate we are from behind our keyboards. But please, please let’s all agree on the simple fact that all of this “unfairness” that is being foisted on these kids is something that many thousands of kids volunteer for every year and many more thousands of kids wish they could volunteer for, but can’t.

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    • I get what you’re saying, but, believe it or not, I wasn’t making a money argument here.

      Things have gotten out of hand to an unprecedented degree because coaches have so much pressure on them to win and as a result there’s motivation to blur the lines on student-athletes’ time demands.

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    • Napoleon BonerFart

      Kids volunteer for it because it’s the surest path they see to NFL riches. These aren’t typically kids who must decide between careers as rocket scientists or neurosurgeons. Those kids will be earning big bucks no matter which choices they make academically. Football players typically don’t have that luxury of a lucrative career as Plan B.

      So, the choice for many is to play football, and put up with all the crap that goes along with that, or start working at the Piggly Wiggly after high school, or, if they’ve got the brains, go $100k in debt to obtain a sociology degree and start pulling down $22k a year. I can see why the football path is the more popular choice.

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  7. Macallanlover

    College coaches have been paid a lot more than the average joe anyway. Think they weren’t driven to keep their $350K job? Think they didn’t have big egos, or competitive drive 30 years ago? When did the Junction Boys take place? I don’t think it that much different from a coaching stand point. I practiced until dark when I was in HS, and on holidays and weekends. And that was driven by a coach making about $12,000 a year. In college sports in the sixties, I recall having about three weeks off in the nine month school year.

    What is new, is the number of 365 day commitments from athletes in today’s college player pool…and some HS players. They are workout warriors, attend camps voluntarily throughout the offseason, hire private instructors and training gurus. Much of that is their desire to be the best they can be, but I money is more the driver in their case. Look at the number of $100MM contracts in baseball, football, basketball, soccer, etc. I remember my jaw dropping that Babe Ruth made a hundred grand a year. Even with inflation added, that doesn’t come close to what sports figures can earn today.

    So it isn’t all on the schools and coaches. And it isn’t all about amateurism either, look what Olympic athletes have done for over a decade of their young lives to make the swim team, gymnastics, track team, etc. Just not that simple, I think we sell people short when we assume it isn’t about more than just the almighty (shrinking) dollar.

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    • So what you’re saying is that the P5 conferences are doing this because the kids themselves have let things get out of hand.

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      • DawgPhan

        It’s almost like there is no difference between doing what you want to do to better yourself and being forced to do what someone else wants you to do to enrich themselves.

        Those are both the same.

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      • Macallanlover

        Not saying that at all Senator, and I think you know that. I like the rule, there needs to be a rule to protect the extremists from keeping the hammer down on young men. But let’s agree there has always been an element in football, not just because coaches are more driven by the increased salaries. And, responsibility also lies with many of the players. Do you think Nick Chubb or Aaron Murray, just two well known examples to UGA fans, would spend any less time in the weight room or film room than they already do ( did)? These aren’t children, as much as we use that to excuse some of their stupid actions they are deliberate, calculated actions they re taking. Many athletes are just that driven to succeed, like many employees/students (non-athletes) sacrifice much of their personal time to be the best.

        All of this didn’t start on college campuses, more and more HS athletes are given up their time to get that 4th or 5th star for recruiting purposes to enhance their exposure. And the NCAA, or Power 5 rulers can control their voluntary decisions. Remember the Bobby Kennedy story of driving home and seeing the lights still on at the truckers union offices, he turned around and went back to his office because he would not be beaten by someone outworking him. Same goes on at HS when athletes see the “top dawg” on their team working harder than they have been. It both inspires, and challenges, them.

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        • Dog in Fla

          Here’s the best part –

          “Of course, when Hoffa heard this story he took great pleasure in leaving his lights on when he left the office thereafter. ‘I used to love to bug the little bastard,’ Hoffa recalled.”

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rfk/peopleevents/p_hoffa.html

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        • DawgFlan

          The rules, now and in the past, have nothing to do with how much time someone chooses to dedicate to their craft on their own time. It is about how much time the universities can compel the athletes to work under their supervision. Chubb will not have a restraining order preventing him from entering a gym for 7 days following the season. Of course you are right that many, including coaches and players, have and will always be some combination of driven, disciplined, passionate, obsessed, workaholic, and/or unbalanced with their pursuits, but that has nothing to do with these rule changes. You’re making an non-argument a kin to how you spend YOUR time = what you do during WORK time.

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        • ASEF

          I think we tend to over-romanticize the nature of these things. People don’t like it when I use the term “lottery” to describe what youth sports has become, largely because lotteries are all about luck while sports are all about “hard work and life lessons.”

          Except when you’re focused on the college scholarship, the possibility of a pro career, or a spot on an Olympic team, it is a lottery. The margin separating the winners and losers in that lottery often has nothing to do with work ethic. An arm 2 inches longer. An extra couple of inches in height. A body that naturally accomodates a bit more muscle mass. An extra genetic helping of quick-twitch. Work ethic builds the house. Nature builds the foundation.

          And what happens when kids try to overcome the limited foundation by putting even more effort into skill development?

          I see a lot of kids who got athletic scholarships to local colleges, and a few not so local, back home after a semester or two. Usually because of grades. They’re just lost. It’s heartbreaking. I hate to say it, but I do take the time to point them out to my own kids and remind them that no matter how much they love their sport, they have to find time to be more than just an athlete.

          If people want to chase those dreams, fine. But the entire system is in desperate need of perspective. Do it because you love it. Understand you need to find other things to love to be there for you after the sport leaves you behind. Because it is going to leave you behind, sooner rather than later for most of us.

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      • 69Dawg

        I think the parents have had a big responsibility in the overall increase in the time spent in sports. It starts with the entry of a child into organized sports. Sometime between the 1970’s and now all sports, football excluded, became year round league play. My kids weren’t talented enough to make the “traveling” teams so they just played the regular season. I know kids that played traveling team soccer and high school soccer and indoor league soccer and when it came time to be offered a scholarship in soccer they just flat quit playing soccer because at 17 they were burned out. Another friends son was a very good soccer player that literally loved the game to the extent that he was constantly play or practicing. At the age of 16 his ankles literally gave out. Emory University told his parents that he would be lucky if he could walk by the time he was 30. They said the only thing that could be done beside pain killers was a transplant of human cadaver ankles. He did not do it. Dr Andrews has gone on record warning parents to make sure their kids play different sports so as not to wear out the sport specific areas of their bodies. At least football keeps the hitting to a minimum except during the season and there is only 7 on 7 in the off season. Still this over work, is like most things, started at home.

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        • DawgFlan

          Parents and how they push kids are a completely separate topic, but I agree it is awful in many instances. Travel teams starting at 6 years of age with year-round commitments… and your kid better have been playing and getting lessons since they were 3-4 or forget about it. Seriously insane. My own observation is that it is mostly a product of college-educated parents who love sports as spectators/alums and think they can give their offspring the opportunities they so wished they would have had themselves, which surely would have led to scholarships, fame, etc. All the while colleges and professional leagues mostly sign kids that started playing in mid/late adolescence without any such opportunities (AAU basketball largely excepted, for other reasons) granted to them.

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    • ASEF

      My daughter was briefly in gymnastics. 3rd grade. 6 hours a week, which seemed a bit much to us, but the other parents seemed ok with it, and our daughter loved it. She made it all the way to regionals (5 states) and had her best slate of scores in that final tournament, all +9s.

      I was talking to the coach the next week. She mentioned a speech she heard recently at a conference. A gymnast who actually made the Olympic team and came home a team medal. Awesome story, right?

      This gymnast came home to move on with the next phase of her life – and realized she had no skills. No real education. And without coaches planning every moment of her life, she went into a tailspin.

      And then the coach informs me that the gymnasts on the competitive team will be going to a 12 hour a week training program come fall.

      At 6 hours a week, gymnastics was already becoming a problem with her schoolwork. She for some reason preferred bouncing around a gymnasium to memorizing her multiplication tables. As parents, we made to the decision to get off that bus. 12 hours a week for 4th graders? Sorry, not interested.

      What fueled the parents we talked to who did stay? Two stories: a girl who earned a scholly to the University of Washington and a second who earned to the right to leave her home and go spend all of her time in an accelerated 356/24/7 training program sponsored by the US Olympic Committee.

      So, yes, college students do “choose” to do these things, but most of them from the youngest of ages have these sports firmly grafted onto their identities by every adult in their world. I don’t see how turning them over to an overseer with 100% control and upper 1% salary status at stake makes a whole lot of sense.

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  8. Gurkha Dawg

    Read about “female athlete triad” . Very serious stuff.

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