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October 11, 2004



I had (have, indeed) a best mate once who was awful at English. He was an intelligent chap, but he hated English. He needed help. So I got on his back; I drilled him on his Shakespeare quotes, I marked his practice essays and rewrote them the right way, I gave him homework, I checked his assignments and made suggestions. He got a C+, and I helped him get it. If it weren't for me, he might not, no would not, have passed. How is that different? Is that unethical? I wasn't paid, obviously, but I don't see too much difference. The teacher and I even had a tacit understanding; we worked together to make sure he passed. You didn't sit the exam for him, you just helped him to prep for it. Is that a problem? I've never seen it as one, and I help many people the same way, albeit for free.

Col Steve

Sorry to read about your tree incident and relieved to read things will be will.

Someone once said something to the effect that football is like politics - moments of violence punctuated by frequent committee meetings.

Football is something of a conundrum in the (college) landscape. You're troubled by the expense, but for a great majority of institutions, it (along with perhaps basketball) is also the machine that generates the revenue to fund many other sports - (notwithstanding the impact of Title IX to ensure those revenues flow to other athletic teams).

Football (and basketball) has allowed a percentage, albeit small, of young people (skewed to minorities) to move quickly into the upper income levels - along with their predominantly white coaches. It has also allowed a larger percentage to obtain a college education - and as you note, some take more advantage of that opportunity than others. On the flip side, there is also a percentage of athletes allowed to fall back into society without much of a safety net when they can no longer contribute to the institution.

And while I believe "daily hitting" may not play as large a role as you suggest (not all players are in hitting positions), the mixture of steriods, drinking, special living arrangements, and a staff/administration that enables special treatment does create a higher risk environment for young men. Perhaps teams should have someone like Tim Frisby on their squads.


And of course, Cal football will always have the 1982 Cal-Stanford finish.

Lynn Gazis-Sax (Stanford, 1982)

Ouch! Don't remind me of that game.


Yes, and we not only have the '82 finish, we also have two straight wins over Stanford...

John, I think I went a bit farther than you did -- I created a thesis for my guy. Still, your point is well-taken.

Col Steve -- you've inspired me to another post.


I went to an inner city high school in Los Angeles were I was weeded out early and put through my years of education shrouded within the GATE program (gifted kids). While in high school, I tutored students not in the program. Through this process, I was exposed to something that I wasn’t supposed to know…inner city high schools count on a 50% drop out rate, they do not offer college prep to every student, they do not offer upward bound school wide, they do not even have college flyers in all of the counselors offices. They discourage students from trying for things that have already been deemed out of their reach by educators.

Frustrated with the lack of knowledge of some of my pupils, I wrote papers for them and took their take home tests, which interestingly enough were the only kind that the football players were given…hmmmm. I didn’t realize at the time, that they weren’t stupid; they simply were not being offered the education that I was. Their books were from the 1960s and I went to high school in the 1980s. They were not given any kind of learning materials. Their teachers didn’t bother to learn their names. All their classes began with Introductory or Survey of.

I remember one football player in particular, his name was David. Very big guy, really good at Ceramics and Auto Shop. He worked at Dodger Stadium, so by the time he got home from working games, he was exhausted. He lived in “project” housing with a lot of other family members. He would sleep through our tutoring sessions. In the quiet, AC-ed library, it was probably the best sleep he’d get all week. At the time, I thought that I was doing him a favor. He washed out of a local University football program and returned to work at Dodger Stadium where he works to this day.

He was 19 years old when he started college; he certainly looked and sounded like an adult, capable of making decisions about his education. But in reality, that was like asking a blind man what color suit he would like to wear to dinner. He had no idea what he was doing with his life by making those early choices about his education. That’s just one of my experiences and I’ve bogarted your blog long enough. But I don’t think that this is about tutoring, I think there are a lot of very important issues hidden within this problem, and it is a problem.


Thanks for a good post. But the economic explanations only go so far -- black girls are using the same textbooks, and in the same conditions -- but doing much, much better work.


Point taken. I'm not saying that economics are the only reason...far from it, but it is certainly one of many factors.

Girls live with very different obstacles. Many of those obstacles are the very things that make us stronger. We have to learn how to care for family, juggle work, school and play, protect ourselves against predators, maintain our blossoming femininity and learn how to assert ourselves all at the same time. Our biggest obstacles can come from within our own families whose greatest fear may be that we will succeed and leave them behind.

Also…I mentioned the take home exams for football players…girls’ soccer, cross country and track/field…I never had a take home exam and because of scheduling most schools in my district required girls to be at school an hour early in order to have the field/gym/weight room because the boys’ sports always got them for the last period. So the female athletes had to be at school at between 6 and 7am and take 6 classes with a C average to remain eligible to play sports, whereas boys didn’t have to be at school until 8am and only took 5 courses being that PE was their 6th class.

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