It is almost reflexive to dismiss the phrase “student athlete” at this point because we primarily hear about it from powerful men whose status quo relies on the continued exploitation of elite college football and basketball players, or from crusty old columnists who have curious blind loyalty to archaic institutions.
In explaining why he opted to vote for Boston College running back Andre Williams over Jameis Winston, Syracuse Post-Standard columnist Bud Poliquin cited Winston’s rape accusation and Williams’ superior academics:
"[A]s good as the kid has been on the field (and he’s proven to be the nation’s best), Winston still walks beneath a cloud off of it. Call me a self-appointed captain of the moral police, but that I could not ignore. So my vote amounts to one fella’s small statement vote. And, anyway, what’s so wrong with acknowledging the leading rusher in America who happens to be a real student/athlete who earned his degree in 3 1/2 years? These are college guys, right? So academic achievement should matter, shouldn’t it? Hello? Is this thing on?"
That was … less bad than you thought it would be, right?
Poliquin’s explanation does come across as a bit earnest, but at least he conveyed his point without being overly preachy about it. If the similarly-believing faction of sports media were to demonstrate better tact in communicating their message, perhaps we’d be more apt to pay attention to it.
Related: Jameis Winston Continues Heisman Trend, More Freshman Than Seniors Have Won in Last Decade
Related: Jameis Winston: “Reporter” Asked If Accuser’s Family Was Affiliated With University of Alabama
Related: College Football 2013-14 Bowl Schedule, In Order of Watchability