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Shtickball: The ‘Student Athlete’ Edition

College sports is fairly hot topic these days. Probably due to the fact that baseball is nearly over (but going out with a bang, holy smokes did you see last night?) and the NBA might end before it begins despite some very frantic last minute negotiations (It seems like both Congress and the NBA love to deal like I wrote college term papers- at the absolute 11th hour. Not a promising sign). Sally Jenkins wrote a fantastic piece for the Washington Post about giving college athletes a chance to major in something they actually have a passion for: Sports (Hear her discuss the article on the always entertaining and highly engrossing Slate sports podcast Hang Up and Listen).  While I agree that college athletes should be given an opportunity to challenge themselves academically with courses that truly interest them, I wonder how this hypothesis would actually play out.  Can you imagine having to share a ‘Sports and Religion’ class with Tim Tebow? Every day raising his hand and beginning his answer with ‘Well, our lord and savior Jesus Christ reminds us that’…- you’d be ready to nail yourself to the cross before you ever got to mid-terms. What about sharing a ‘Sports and Justice’ class with Ray Lewis? You so badly want to ask him where his white suit disappeared to, but you’d probably soil yourself before you ever got up the nerve. Still, there are some athletes that would probably be fun to share a class with. The trope of Shane Battier as a intellectual, Krzyzewskian player is a tired one, but I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a ‘Sports and Politics’ class with him (perhaps taught by our old friend Dave Zirin?), if only to gaze intently at that glorious dome of his. To take it to another stratosphere entirely, can you imagine taking a ‘Sports Psychology’ class with Ron Artest? Talk about learning from your peers, I’d get up at 5 a.m. and walk miles through the snow to attend.  So while there certainly are some notable drawbacks, the verdict is in: let the athletes learn! At least until they have a really important game, then we’ll probably see a puny white equipment manager signing in as ‘N. Suh’ to take a ‘Sports and the Art of the Guillotine’ final.

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