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College football brings out the stupid

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 11:28 a.m. CDT

... in all of us.

Yesterday was a busy day, but not so busy that I couldn’t remember it was Game Day for my beloved Iowa State Cyclones.

It’s been a rough start to the 2013 season for the Cardinal and Gold. So rough, I was beginning to think the late-season match-up with Kansas might be their only hope for a victory this season.

Something needed to change.

The last two big game weeks, I had worn “school colors” on Game Day, to no avail. So, I decided to change pace, and wore Tulsa colors yesterday.

As was the case in the classic sports comedy, “Celtic Pride,” I decided I was the “Bad Luck Guy.” So, I tried to jinx the opposition by taking on their colors.

Pretty stupid, right?

Yeah, especially when I had a ribbon cutting to attend as a member of the ISU Extension Council. All of the staff was nicely decked out in their own Cardinal and Gold, and they even played the Cyclone fight song.

And, when it was time to cut the ribbon, there I am, the only guy wearing blue.

But, if you check the scores from last night, you will see it worked. The Cyclones won in a rather dominant fashion defensively, and their offense finally looked like it was beginning to click.

So, obviously, it was the blue shirt I wore all day. Right?

The eye rolls I’ve no doubt elicited from you are sign enough of the real topic I’d like to quickly discuss today. And that is the idea of paying top-tier Division I athletes to play their respective sports.

I’m pretty much with Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard on this one. Like high school, college is about one thing: getting an education.

An education that would be very expensive to those student-athletes were they just students.

Granted, there are some pretty stupid aspects of the NCAA rules that should be addressed. But, paying football and basketball players isn’t the answer.

Like all other endeavors in life we call “careers,” there are dues to be paid. In my case, as a journalist, it was the four years I worked as a entry-level staff writer and then as a sports editor at a small weekly newspaper, making less than $20,000 a year.

I ate a lot of top ramen and really cheap — and nasty-tasting — macaroni and cheese from a box. I also didn’t have a lot of disposable income. I was lucky because I had an apartment (a furnished efficiency) where all of the utilities (and cable TV) were included in the rent.

After that, I moved into a job at the best newspaper in Iowa, making $25,000 a year. Three years after that, I was editor of a news magazine making substantially more. And, less than a decade after that, I was the publisher of a newspaper.

That’s not how it works out for most journalists. But, if you work really hard — and pay your dues — it’s definitely in the realm of possibility.

Sure, I didn’t take a beating from the Oklahoma University defensive line on Saturday, and then got up early for classes on Monday, barely able to move. But, moving on to the NFL and making a minimum of $500,000 a year isn’t in my realm of possibility, either.

Like everyone else, college athletes have to pay their own dues. And in the meantime, they need to just shut up and put their nose to the grindstone.

As one successful NFL coach once said, “It’s time to put on the big-boy pants and go to work.”

• • •

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Maine.

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