April 26, 2004

Functional Illiteracy, on the Offense,

Functional Illiteracy, on the Offense, Five Yards; Repeat First Down

The pondering of many a famous oxymoron often produces a chuckle: Jumbo shrimp, classic rock, feminist thought, &c. But we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t understand why the NCAA’s designation “scholar-athlete” isn’t equally uproarious. In fact, we have a hard time believing that sundry sports reporters don’t sport a grin every time they hear the appellation.

Don’t get us wrong, dear reader: We are fully prepared to acknowledge that any college student who participates in NCAA-level sport is himself an athlete. Even female shot-putters—though some are inclined to view them as hefty gals with anger issues.

Naturally, what really perturbs us is the “scholar” portion of the designation. Let’s forget for a moment the ridiculous notion that the basketball team at Texas Tech University is a passel of budding literati. Instead, we want to highlight the sheer lunacy of labeling any undergraduate a “scholar.” The idea of calling a college sophomore a “scholar” conjures in us notions of a young Cotton Mather on the campus of Harvard University feverishly composing a treatise entitled: “Cicero’s De re publica: Being an Examination of the Latin Prosody of a Famous Gentleman from Roman Antiquity.”

But today’s undergraduates? Forget about it! The only subjects on which current college students are experts are keg stands and acquaintance rape. Well, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

But surely the NCAA’s “scholar-athletes” don’t even reach these lofty heights of academic achievement. Haven’t you noticed, dear reader, that many of the intellectual firebrands who play college sports major in such suspicious subject matters as “Coaching,” “Hotel Management,” or, even worse, “Sociology”? At least some of them are pragmatists who major in “Criminal Justice,” knowledge of which will certainly be of use in years to come.

Then there’s the laughable matter of television play-by-play men commenting on the intellectual prowess of a given college athlete. So one member of the University of Nevada at Los Vegas’ basketball squad is focusing his studies on “Casino Gambling,” minoring in “Mail Fraud,” and has a 3.5 GPA. Stop the presses: We’ve found one of the few precocious “scholar-athletes” who can actually sign his name! And he is clever enough to employ a comparatively bright fellow to compose his papers for him. How crafty!

Now, don’t get us wrong, dear reader: We enjoy a good sports event as much as the next beer-swilling Cro-Magnon. And we fully realize that the large majority of “scholar-athletes” don’t play big-time sports such as football.

But is it too much to ask that the storied NCAA promote a little truth in advertising? To this end, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” suggest it replaces the rib-tickling term “scholar-athlete” with a more sincere appellative. How about “pituitary cases who make oodles of money for their university, receive no education, but score lots of chicks as compensation”? We admit it’s not particularly catchy, but what on campuses these days is catchy, with the exception of herpes?

Posted at April 26, 2004 12:03 AM | TrackBack