Jan. 19, 2012
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
Too many headlines in high profile college sports these days have been unbecoming of what is truly happening on so many campuses across the country.
Student-athletes are playing the sports they love, learning life lessons as they compete, and gaining a college education to further their careers after sport.
They are working with charitable organizations. They are volunteering their limited free time to hospitals, reading to grade school children, traveling to third world countries, and going across our United States to help (and learn) from the underprivileged.
What people sometimes forget is that when these student-athletes arrive on campus, they are still teenagers. Their coaches, like their professors, work at developing them into mature young men and women by the time they leave our campus.
We also have a tendency to expect that these young people will grow up faster than is typically possible. When these young student-athletes make a bad decision, the results are often very public. And when it comes to the major, high-profile sports, the negative stories will always trump the positive. It happens across the nation, and it is certainly the case on our campus.
That's why when someone like Denard Robinson makes a choice to forego the NFL draft and stay here at Michigan to attend classes and play his senior year, it says a lot about him and a lot of our student-athletes here at Michigan. He is going to remain in school, get his degree and gain one more year of maturity before he moves on to the professional game.
However, Tuesday night (Jan. 17) at the Michigan-Michigan State men's basketball game reminded me of another reason his decision to stay was even more telling.
Watching Denard and Roy Roundtree join the Maize Rage to cheer on the basketball team at Crisler Center Tuesday night was just plain fun. The two young men were no different than any other student in attendance. They were jumping around, screaming and enjoying a rite of passage as a University of Michigan student.
Brian DeWagner, a Michigan fan living in Ontario, noted in an email forwarded to me:
"... Watching Denard act as a fool (an awesome fool) at the basketball game last night renewed my faith in the very idea of college athletics. After the last couple of years, and after all of the hits college sports and athletes have taken, if no one writes a piece about that they've missed the boat! That's the flip side to the business of it all. That was nice to see."
Brian DeWagner is correct. It needed to be mentioned as more than just a note in media reports. It was fun. It is what sports are really all about. It spotlights what is proper and good about college athletics -- and college athletes -- today.
Brian, thank you for sending this email.
And thank you, Denard and Roy, for continuing to display what is right about college sports and college athletes.