Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day Games and Steven Garcia

LSU has CBS day games for the rest of the season. People are pissed. "We play night games, dammit! You're cutting in to our tailgating time!" And let me assure you, my west coast living liver does not enjoy 1 p.m. kickoffs. See: last weekend.

Here's the deal: CBS holds the contract, we do what they say. I absolutely get that. We're beholden to the almighty TV contract dollar. ("LOL amateurism wut" here.) When I was at LSU, the student government tried to pass a resolution that we only play night games at home. I laughed and thought "That's adorable." Being on the big networks means big money and no school is turning that down, though we admire your plucky outlook, future leaders! (There was also a great joke made during this day game debacle that Huey P. Long would never allow no SEC home night games to happen. "He'd hold the CBS broadcast trucks at the state lines!" Louisiana political humor is the best.)

What I don't get is that people on the Twits and such are all, "Be glad you're playing day games! It means you're good. Would you rather be mediocre and play night games?" Obviously not. But that logic fails me too.

Why can't we be good AND play night games? Why is CBS preferring to put people in the midday slot? It seems that the competition is a lot fiercer with day game kickoff, as most midwestern schools kick off then. (Think about it. Want to be outside in Ann Arbor in November? Not likely. Outside in Baton Rouge in November is still pleasant.) Someone pointed out that CBS has only one night game slot a year, which they blew on UF/Bama and not holding out until November when LSU/Bama met, as it was a gamble that both teams would still be undefeated. And that may be true, contractually, that CBS only have the rights to one night game a year.

What I still don't get is WHY that's the case. Are you really drawing more viewers in prime time on Saturday night with 2 1/2 Men and CSI reruns (I looked, that's exactly what CBS has scheduled for Saturday night) than a marquee college matchup? And trust me, you air the SEC and people are gonna stay in or go to bars and watch it.

I'm not hollering about the fine LSU tradition of being blitzed on bourbon before (alliteration ftw!) kickoff at 7 p.m. I'm just saying it would seem logical to CBS's bottom line that airing a big time college football game at night with less key game competition that's presented with day games would be more beneficial to them than less, so telling me "Be glad CBS wants you on during the day!" loses something.

In all seriousness if someone can explain this to me, I'd be happy to hear it. I'm guessing that the big networks made some side agreement that ABC/ESPN gets night games and not CBS, but why the hell would CBS agree to that?

In other news: Steven Garcia was kicked off the University of Southern California South Carolina football team. (Seriously typed that wrong. West coast living!) What I take issue with in this is the high comedy the internet finds in Steven Garcia's plight. The guy has been suspended 5 times throughout his collegiate career and it seems pretty apparent has some sort of issues with the boozeahol. I truly don't mean to get all preachy but it concerns me that this is taken as a giant joke. Comments on twitter seem to be making fun of his love of alcohol, when if it costs you a college scholarship and a spot on the football team it seems much more problem than joke.

I'm just really concerned that no one actually watches out for these kids. I have been since I discussed the issue with my sports law professor and asked him who was looking out for the student athletes, as the athletic department and administration have their own agendas, and he said, "No one." Amateurism lolz aside, they are treated as commodities. Unpaid commodities. With Erik Ainge's recent admission of his issues with drugs and alcohol, even while at the University of Tennessee, you have to wonder how much close attention these universities are paying to the welfare of the student athlete off the field. On the one hand, they are adults who are responsible for their own decision making. On the other hand, they are 18-22 year olds living away from home for the first time and the school needs to be making sure they're actually okay, beyond being okay enough to play.

I'm following as much of the LSU football team on Twitter as I am aware of and I started retweeting some of their stuff with #emofootballplayertweets. They are adorable. However, it quickly became apparent that if I kept doing that, my timeline would be a constant stream of such RTs. 18-22 year old dudes are emo as fuck. And they should be! Good lord that time in my life... But it's the school's job to check in on that. Because what happened to Ryan Leaf and Erik Ainge and what seems to be happening with Steven Garcia should be more than just "boys being boys! Alcohol ahahaha!" stories. They end up being cautionary tales that no one actually listens to as they seem to happen over and over again. The parents have trusted the schools with the kids, and as educators, which is what football coaches and athletic department staff truly are, it's their job to check in on this. Now, can you babysit Garcia? Not likely. And if he's an alcoholic, you likely can't stop him. But shouldn't they offer him some help instead of just punishment, which after 5 times of doling it out, it obviously wasn't working?

Everyone should be a little more concerned for Steven Garcia, and similarly situated athletes, both pro and amateur, rather than just laughing at them.

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