Before I go any further, I’d like to encourage anyone reading this blog to check out the wonderful developments at UC Berkeley as described in this article. Great stuff. By the way, the article comes from an extremely helpful and comprehensive clips service called College Athletics Clips. The editor is Nick Infante, and Nick for years has done a great job of identifying and publishing summaries of the articles covering the cutting-edge issues of athletics, from youth sports through the professional ranks. I have no financial stake in Nick’s service, and would encourage anyone who wants a national (and global) perspective of athletics issues to check out his service.
I need a break from thinking about, and writing about, all the bad actors in sports. I’m tired of NFL teams braying that they “Got it right” in domestic violence matters, only to flip-flop a time or two based on fan, media or most importantly, sponsors’ reactions. I’m tired of hearing about the sanctity of due process as a barrier for an NFL team against taking action, when private employers routinely suspend employees with pay while sorting out conduct-related situations. And I’ve lost track of the number of task forces and committees the NFL has formed to advise it on matters of domestic violence in an effort to regain the trust of the public. Why not just start by saying this: Physically abuse a woman and you lose a bunch of money and a bunch of playing time, much less what the legal system might impose. How hard is that to implement?
Having said what it is I’m tired of, let’s get back to UC Berkeley. The last we heard about Cal it was being pilloried in the media for its abysmal graduation rates in football. It’s true that someone has to be last in big-time football in this unfortunate category, but who knew it would be one of the leading public universities in the country?
Rather than summarize the positive news from Cal, let me provide from College Athletics Clips a portion of the linked article:
BERKELEY —UC Berkeley’s newest sports team may be small, with just seven players, but it carries a big distinction – it’s the nation’s first competitive college athletic team for blind students. Chancellor Nicholas Dirks congratulated the co-ed Cal goalball team at its class last Friday and presented the student-athletes – and a service dog, Van Dyke – with their uniforms.
"You’re setting a new moment in history,” he told the players, before watching their practice in a Recreational Sports Facility gym. He praised them for having "the will and the courage” to forge a new path in higher education for student-athletes with disabilities.
"I never imagined I’d ever play sports on a team,” said Judith Lung, a senior and secretary of the Disabled Students Union, describing to the chancellor time spent as a child "playing with paper and doing quiet activities. Here at Berkeley, I was given a chance to be on a team, to be competitive, to experience something I never could have imagined in my life.”
So Jameis Winston, take a break and get over yourself. I think I’ve found some athletes I can feel good about, folks I can perhaps even encourage the high school students with whom I now work to view as role models. As someone who worked for two decades with universities that competed against Cal, I never thought I would say this, but
Thoughts? I welcome your comments.