Thanks a lot. We could use some new grass.
TCU students, faculty and administrators who gaze upon Amon G. Carter Stadium's usually well-manicured turf can observe the remnants of a prank by the SMU band that took root during the Horned Frogs' 21-0 victory over the Mustangs on Nov. 26.
Apparently, SMU's band members dropped winter rye grass seed on the field during their halftime show that has now sprouted into the outline of the trademark "Diamond M" SMU band formation.
What SMU couldn't accomplish on the field of play, it could in this ongoing battle between two rival institutions.
Well, actually, it's not a battle so much as a one-sided dispute.
TCU wins, if not dominates, in football, men's basketball, track, baseball (oops, SMU doesn't have one of those), and the Mustangs drop a couple of seeds on our field.
A good-natured "rivalry," don't you think?
In recent years, the TCU athletics program has notched an undefeated conference record in men's basketball, two consecutive football bowl victories, a national record in track relay events and, as a final measure, been invited to join the more-prestigious Conference USA.
In that same time, SMU racked up more NCAA violations within its football program, lost to the TCU men's basketball program in the midst of the Mustangs' best season in several years and has been invited to drown on the sinking ship that is the Western Athletic Conference.
Oh, and they dropped some seeds on our field.
Since SMU loses at everything else, it seems natural that its pranks would be lame. But in the future, if SMU students want to do something on our field other than lose, they should consult us first.
Penalizing player not court's job
High school athletes across the country are playing it a little more safe this week following the sentencing of a former South San Antonio High School basketball player.
Tony Limon was sentenced to a five-year prison term last week for aggravated assault. The incident took place during a game last season between South San Antonio and East Central High School.
Limon, a 6-foot-1 starting center for his team, violently elbowed East Central guard Brent Holmes away from the ball. No foul was called.
Holmes, who had already scored 19 points in the game, was treated for a concussion and compound fracture to his nose.
Limon, who publicly apologized following the incident and after being suspended for the remainder of his high school career, believed the issue was behind him, until he was charged with aggravated assault.
It wasn't until several local television stations broadcast a video of the incident, spawning public outcry by citizens in San Antonio, that Limon was charged.
So now, a young man who planned to attend college will spend the next five years of his life in a state penitentiary.
A ruling like this has never before occurred in the state of Texas and is likely to change the way athletes play the game.
The last thing we need in this country is a bunch of overprotective parents overreacting and trying to press charges against every Tom, Dick and Harry who pushed their son or daughter down on the playing field.
In a continuation of the sue-happy decade of the '90s, Americans looking to get rich quick will jump all over this issue.
For anyone who has ever played a contact sport, you know it gets rough on the playing field. Cheap shots are taken that go unnoticed by referees, and once or twice someone has probably been intentionally injured.
It's all part of the game.
Early on, children on the playground start playing rough. "No blood, no foul" and "Call your own foul" were the terms used on the court when I was a kid.
So why is the public so shocked that young men are getting out of control on the court or field on which they play?
Well, let's look at their examples. Major League Baseball players clear the bench for brawls. National Hockey League players throw each other into the glass. Professional figure skaters hire people to club their competitors.
It can be argued, however, that these individuals are entertainers and are, therefore, exempt from the rules. Perhaps this is true, but if it weren't for the glorification of professional sports, high school sports probably wouldn't be as popular.
So the question now is who should be accountable for Limon's future?
Is it his own fault for beating Holmes so badly that Holmes' family says he can't play in college? Is it the media's fault for exploiting the incident with the home video? Or is it the fault of District Judge Mark Luitjen who sentenced Limon to do hard time?
The judge, a former district attorney, saw the video of the incident during courtroom procedures. He was also able to consider Limon's prior conviction for his part in two attempted burglaries prior to the assault. Limon was sentenced to four years probation for those incidents.
So the kid wasn't perfect. He made some mistakes, but so does everybody else. He was a high school basketball player with a promising future. Limon publicly apologized for his actions, and he was forced off the basketball team in his final season. He served his time.
While wife beaters, rapists and drug dealers remain free, Limon is serving hard time for what would have been called an intentional foul by referees.
The justice system has failed yet another American citizen.
James Zwilling is a business and news-editorial
journalism major from Phoenix, Az.
Professional, amateur athletes do not deserve special
Last week, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District handed down a new policy which eliminated the grade "D." This was done specifically for Cody Spencer, a linebacker and running back for Grapevine High School.
The emergency decision - which was passed by a unanimous vote and one abstention - allows Spencer's GPA to jump from 2.1 to 2.375, making him eligible for a Division I football scholarship. TCU is one of three schools that are heavily recruiting Spencer.
The Grapevine decision not only tells athletes that grades aren't really that important - seeing that the school board can just get rid of a letter grade to improve a GPA - but it tells other students that they don't have to try as hard to pass a class with a C.
While the timing and basis for this decision reeks of pampering athletes, it is only an example of how society puts athletes on a pedestal. When we give athletes an inch, they take a million.
It's obvious the sports world is more like the real world these days. In the good old days, athletes made minimum wage, worked during the off-season, fought in wars and played hard. Now we have murder charges, drug suspensions, dead-beat parent-athletes and cross-dressers.
Is it merely an accurate reflection of the society that we live in, or is it that we place expectations on players so high that they inevitably fail? It is some of both.
What do we expect when we throw $20 million at a 20-year-old and tell him to be a man? The message athletes have received ever since they played in high school has been that they are kings, and they can do nothing wrong. That 20-year-old is going to turn around and expect people to love him because he earns more money and because he is an athlete.
Salaries in professional sports are an outrage. Juan Gonzalez, formerly of the Texas Rangers and now with the Detroit Tigers, is being offered a $140 million contract. He doesn't know if he wants to accept it or not. It is this kind of arrogance that leads a player to demand a contract renegotiation because he had a good year.
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner attempted to slow down the increasing salaries when he refused to sign shortstop Derek Jeter to a contract worth more than $100 million and instead signed him to a one-year, $25 million contract. Nice try, George, but $25 million is still too much for a man that only works for nine months.
Even the average bench players earn six-figure salaries. They are set for life by sitting on a bench and wearing a pretty uniform. At least they will have a nice car to drive home.
Don't get me wrong. Athletes do have to work hard to succeed professionally. But how many custodians, groundskeepers, waitresses, civil servants and other people who do the jobs that nobody wants to do have to work two jobs to survive? Assuming Jeter plays all 162 games next season, he will earn $154,320.99 per game. The poverty line is around $16,000. Jeter will make $17,146.78 per inning.
I'm not saying players need to take 80 percent salary cuts and start working two jobs. There just needs to be some balance and a sense of reality.
One of the most disturbing trends in sports is high school players skipping college to go pro. Why do they do it? Money and fame. It is that pedestal that society puts athletes in this country on. And it starts in high school.
Spencer is now known as the kid who got rid of the "D" at Grapevine High. The standard for education was just lowered at Grapevine, and it was because of an athlete. That is sickening. The star linebacker will go through life expecting handouts and shortcuts.
Whether it be in the form of a contract worth more than $100 million or a grade change because they couldn't be an average student, athletes give the impression that they command respect solely by their performance on the field. Athletes who beat their wives get their way when the only punishment is a suspension and probation. Two months later, he will be back on the field earning his millions.
This attitude that allows athletes to get their way is being perpetuated at an early age. The Grapevine-Colleyville school board is only furthering this notion. If we want sports to return to the carefree days of good competition and fun, then we need to start with today's kids. A sense of loyalty, respect and a strong work ethic is the only way sports will become fun for the whole family again.
Sports Editor Matt Welnack is a junior
news-editorial journalism major from San Antonio.
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