By Kevin Hudec
By Kevin Hudec
Some college athletes get treated poorly and it is completely fair.
Recently there has been a lot of debate on how college athletes should be treated by the media after the head coach of the football program at Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy, went on a tirade during a press conference.
The more than three minute rant was posted on the popular Web site Youtube and has been viewed nearly a half million times.
Jenni Carlson, a columnist for The Oklahoman, was critical of the way that then Oklahoma quarterback Bobby Reid not only plays on the field, but lives his life. This article was then brought to Gundy by Reid’s mother.
Carlson critiqued that “laughing in the final minutes of an embarrassing loss is bad form,” referring to Oklahoma State’s season opening loss to Georgia, the only game Reid started before Gundy replaced him.
Gundy’s oddly passionate speech about not hurting a kid’s feelings not only talks about how wrong it was for Carlson to attack Reid when he is a “great kid who does everything right,” but also challenges the media to “write something about me, I’m a man. I’m 40.”
Well, Gundy got his wish. Since his critique of the media, it seems like more media outlets have written on this coach than on Oklahoma State’s actual football program.
Despite this tirade seeming to be more passion than fact, he makes one statement that is true.
“He is not a professional athlete,” says Gundy. The question is should college athletes be treated as professional athletes. Should the media be allowed to “kick” a kid while he is down?
In this situation, the answer is yes.
Professional football lacks a minor league system and as such, NCAA Division I football is treated as the minors.
Any player that plays in Division I football, especially if they play for the third ranked team in the nation, plays in a league that is treated by the nation as a minor football league.
Subsequently, they understand what position they are putting themselves in and should understand when not only the media, but anyone, critiques them.
While these are students, it’s not like they’re children.
Are we really to believe that students like Reid who are old enough to vote, have sex and consume alcohol can’t take criticism or don’t have the mental processes to understand that playing for a team in a national title race is going to bring them some kind of public scrutiny?
Football brings in so much money that it is one of few sports that can really hold up to this kind of public interest. There are other sports, such as basketball, which also undergo public scrutiny but the same standards can’t be held for college level athletes who are involved in cross country, volleyball and many other sports.
This may seem like a double standard, but the bottom line is that if a college athlete knows that he may undergo public criticism and will be treated as a semi-pro athlete then he shouldn’t have his mother go to the coach so that the coach can chew out the media when a paper prints a story on the athlete.