The Sad Side of College Sports

This afternoon a Facebook friend posted a link to a graphic of dogs with buck teeth and wigs dressed up as Alabama cheerleaders. The person who posted the graphic made a comment that maybe we should remember that the people involved in SEC sports are 18 to 21 years of age — a good argument I wish more people would make. I replied under the picture saying it was sad that this, a cheap shot at young girls, was an example of how little sportsmanship was left in the game.

The conversation went downhill from there. A few LSU fans chimed in that this kind of online bullying was no big deal. They wouldn’t care if it was a depiction of their daughter, they said.

I’m all about a good game — I love the tailgating, spending time with friends, good food and lots of laughs. I enjoy the actual game itself, watching how good coaching and the sheer effort of an athlete can make all the difference between winning and losing. But where in mean-spirited graphics is there an actual debate about the game?

Instead of worrying about the strategy of the opposing team, some of these online graphics and jeers are more about taking cheap shots at the expensive of kids working hard to make it through college — most of them on scholarships that demand long hours on the field practicing in addition to the hours of coursework they need to complete their degree. Now, you can get into a debate about whether or not some athletes are given an easy ride in their college career for the sake of the sport, but we’ll leave that debate for another day.

Another frustrating part of the issue is that the online bullying seems to be considered by some fans as exempt from “normal life.” I wonder if the people who enjoy debasing young women like the Alabama cheerleaders or those who, say, call fans of the opposing team inbred, ill-educated, hillbillies (that was another comment I heard recently) would feel comfortable standing up in church the next day to share that comment with their pastor or priest.

At the end of the day, comments and graphics that take cheap shots at the opposition do little more than to embolden those who argue that some college football fans go too far in their “love of the game.”

How about we focus more on the actual game, the athletes, the coaches? Just a thought.

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