College players not living up to their commitments

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Tyrann Mathieu was only one of many NCAA football players that recently was suspended from playing this season. Mathieu was a 2011 Heisman finalist and was considered to be a key defensive back of the LSU Tigers.

As college football’s publicity rises, the number of student athletes banned, suspended or arrested increases as well. Last year, ESPN was flooded with tabloid stories concerning players who got in trouble. Public intoxication, possession and usage of drugs and resisting arrest are just some of the headlines that appeared this year.Last year’s Heisman Trophy candidate Tyrann Mathieu appeared to be one of the best NFL prospects for 2013. College football analysts were sure that Mathieu, rated as the number one defensive back in the nation, could lead his Louisiana State University (LSU) Tiger defense back into the national spotlight to take another run at the BCS Championship. Unfortunately, Mathieu tested positive for synthetic marijuana a third time, and was booted from the LSU roster, letting down the Baton Rouge team and community.

One theory for players’ poor behavior is that the level of competition to which the NCAA has risen is too high for key players such as Mathieu. LSU was ranked number one in the nation in preseason polls, and had an excessive amount of hype leading into this season. Mathieu was the heart and soul of the secondary, and had already been given successful projections for the year. Soon enough, however, he tested positive for drug use, and the “Honey Badger” was kicked off the team, rendering him ineligible to play Division I FBS football for the 2013 season and sinking the Tigers to number three in the polls.

Maybe the student athletes who are getting arrested are just not mature enough to handle the national stoplight. Mathieu, like most other NCAA players, was barely 20 years old when he was suspended. The amount of pressure placed on these players can be too much to handle, forcing many to act out like toddlers. It’s a pretty sad comparison, but then again, so is testing positive for marijuana three times in a row.

Some of the actions resulting in charges filed against student-athletes are absurd. Take Michigan defensive end, Frank Clark, for instance. Every year Michigan recruits some of the best players from all over the country. They are not only given the privilege to play for one of the most prestigious programs of all time, but also admission to one of the best academic institutions in the country. But Clark is currently awaiting the terms of his suspension for his attempt to steal a MacBook Air from a Michigan dorm room.

Some cases are much more severe than testing positive for marijuana or even stealing. Take last year’s standout Georgia Bulldog freshman running back, Isaiah Crowell. After being regarded as the number one overall running back of his class, Crowell was arrested for possession of illegal and concealed weaponry.

As an underclassman, Crowell’s arrest is humiliating. Crowell was one of the many student athletes who received a full scholarship to his university. Schools, like Georgia with Crowell, place their reputations on the line, hoping to increase the efficiency of their team. Not only did Crowell let his team down, but also his coach, who took the time to include Crowell in his top-notch recruiting class. His roster spot is not only gone, but it could have been given to someone else who could have played to their full potential.

The arrests and suspensions of Mathieu, Clark and Crowell are disturbing and go to show how absent-minded players can be in the off-season. It’s as if the season ends and players assume they have the right to act inappropriately, without any discipline or punishment.

How can these players act so naïve, despite the fact that they signed a commitment before attending the school to behave and act responsibly? They were asked to represent their school in a positive manner, and given free tuition to do so. Instead, these players turned their backs and acted selfishly, figuratively tearing up their commitments.

Forgetting football, if you choose to commit to a school like Michigan, Stanford or any other top academic school in the country, would you put your education (or future for that matter) on the line, just to steal a laptop? You’ve already earned admission to a great university; maybe it’s time to try to get good grades so that if you don’t get drafted into the NFL, you can graduate and get a job.

The saddest part is these are some of the best athletes in the United States. A student with natural talent should be focusing on improving his or her game, and trying to stay away from street violence. The next time an NCAA football athlete, or any college athlete for that matter, thinks of doing something illegal, maybe they should remind themselves of the goals, opportunities and commitments they were given.