Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Many “Gates” Will There Be? Now It's College Football

Language is a living thing and we have seen it changing each year to accommodate new ways to quickly express our ideas. In the English language we use is perhaps becoming more like other languages that use far fewer words but manage to convey a whole host of meanings. Take Japanese for example. Little said, much understood.

The latest, or should I say, the political episode that started off our latest addition to our American vocabulary, was the infamous Watergate break-in during the Nixon Presidency. Catchy headlines hook readers and it quickly became just “Watergate” and we all knew. Then that morphed into various other “gates” so that each time we saw that appendage to some noun we knew it was a scandal or one in the making.

New Jersey recently had the beginning of their “Bridgegate” which may have had its seeds sown in the political machinations so familiar to all of us. It will all play out in the media and political ambitions will nourish investigations that may pull in yet more people and more intrigue. Surely, this latest “gate” will have plenty of media coverage and leave in its wake wrecked lives, damaged careers and perhaps even a divorce or two.

We’ve even had a few “Nannygates” where famous people were found to have employed nannies who were ”illegals” or the employer didn’t contribute to the requires taxes for them, failed to pay overtime, gave no benefits and worked the women up to seven days a week. Some were even subjected to physical punishments of sorts, disrespected and made to feel inferior in every way possible. They were threatened with deportation if they said anything and lived in miserable quarters. These are probably more common than we know and we only hear about the cases involving high profile entertainers or politicians or when a housekeeper or nanny physically escapes from the home.

One coming down the road at us may be deemed “Collegegate” and it would involve the entirely unacceptable, in my humble opinion, behavior of the titans who control college sports and, during their tenure, reap the billions of dollars of benefits while keeping college athletes in serf-like status. Where is the morality in making college kids earn billions for you, put their physical health and education at risk and pay them nothing for their efforts? Shouldn’t they be given an equal opportunity to enjoy some of the incredible financial gain?

As one person who is currently engaged in the effort for Northwestern players said, "Billions of dollars are flooding NCAA sports, yet players are often stuck with sports-related medical expenses, lose their scholarships due to injuries, and 'full' scholarships often aren't what they promised to be."

The retort from the NCAA wasn’t exactly player-friendly as you might imagine. Why not just call them ingrates for asking for some form of remuneration for their efforts? Who earns all this money, anyway? What happens to all the players who are permanently injured or who, after their college football careers, can’t get a job? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some financial backing to support them to try to get qualified for a job? Do you just have them work as hard as they can in this dangerous physical fray and then throw them aside when it’s over? They aren’t dray horses, they’re people.

We know that concussions start earlier than anyone ever thought and certainly in college football, where everyone wants to shine to get into the NFL, there are many. When college is over the concussions continue to do their damage but the glory and their youth is gone while they begin to experience physical and mental problems. Who should care about this? Anyone who supports college sports should care because it’s all of our kids out there trying to make the fans wild with enthusiasm watching the plays and reaching into their checkbooks to contribute to the college sports program. Every cheer should also bring a pang of guilt for these players who only want what should rightfully be theirs; a share of the very full pie.