The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Players can point the finger at themselves

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One of the biggest problems in our society is that nobody takes responsibility for their actions. The blame is always pinned on somebody else.

That's why it drives me nuts when people blame everyone else but the athletes when a school gets in trouble by the NCAA because a player accepted gifts from an agent. More times than not, the athlete seeps into the background while everybody points the finger at the agent, the school or the coach for not keeping better track of what their players are doing in their free time.

First of all, did your parents know what you were doing at all times when you were growing up? Even when you were living under the same roof as the people who had authority over you, there were still ways to deceive them. So this idea that coaches should play babysitter to their players is ridiculous and unrealistic.

Furthermore, it's easy to blame the agents when NCAA rules are broken, but this isn't the movies - there are no clear cut villains here. Agents have been around forever and while the ones who don't abide by the rules are schmucks, nothing has changed. There will always be agents who only see athletes as dollar signs and who will therefore offer gifts in hopes of generating business.

We know this, and seeing as how we know we know this, what's the one way to stop this growing issue? What's the only way to ensure that players won't get themselves or their schools in trouble when an agent comes knocking on their doors?

Just don't accept the gifts.

Whaa? You mean, as long as I don't accept the five c-notes, the free booze, the new suit and the hooker that this agent just offered me, I won't get in trouble?

Look, I get it - college kids are stupid. I'm still stupid and I'm several years out of college. But at some point these athletes have to wake up and realize that a party isn't worth throwing their football careers down the toilet. Nobody is holding them at gunpoint, so it shouldn't be that hard to say, "You know what? Thanks, but no thanks. I'd like to keep my scholarship and not screw over an entire program a la Reggie Bush. I pass on Reggie Bush."

The ironic thing is that if they waited, everything that these agents are offering them would still be there once they're out of college. Money, women, alcohol, video games - those things aren't reserved only for college athletes. So as long as they make good choices and keep their nose clean, they're going to get what they want in the end.

Is there anything that can be done to help the players? Sure. The NFL holds a rookie symposium every year in efforts to educate young players on everything from financial matters to how to deal with friends and family members seeking money. Every college or university with a football program could conduct the same seminar so that players know how to handle situations in which an agent approaches them offering them gifts. It shouldn't be something that's too hard to set up, and seeing as how college football makes millions of dollars a year, it shouldn't require the NFL to step in like Nick Saban would have you believe.

But in the end, whether college football hosts its own symposium or coaches keep athletes under 24-hour surveillance, it's still up to the players to make good decisions.

They still need to take responsibility for their actions.

By Anthony Stalter  |  August 3, 2010; 1:18 PM ET  | Category:  College Football , NCAA , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Interesting concept...expecting players who are babied for their entire athletic lives to abide by rules other than their own. Of course the apologists will say a $60k education for free isn't enough and if you want to alleviate this problem, pay the players. I say even if they are paid, this problem will not go away. Many of these guys know that riches are just a couple years away, but that's not enough...they always need more. NFL teams are so worried lately about the character of a player, I wonder why these types of instances don't raise more red flags with them. They seem to be more worried about a kids mother taking drugs or may have been a prostitute than if the player took what basically amounts to a bribe from an agent. And if they will take a bribe from an agent, even knowing they could afford anything they want in a year or two, who else might they be willing to take a bribe from...the gambling community, perhaps? So if the players won't take accountability for their actions, the governing bodies of either the NFL or the NCAA need to figure out a way to force them to.

Posted by: 18andDONE | August 11, 2010 11:30 AM

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