Harvard’s football players have been challenged for over 100 years to balance not only academic excellence, but excellence on the field as well. Even during the summer, over 40 players stay in Cambridge to work out and either attend summer school or work a full-time job.
“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication,” said senior defensive back Sean Ahern. “It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”
Most upperclassmen are working a 9 to 5 job during the summer, while underclassmen take summer courses to help ease the load during the school year.
“You have to be better at time management during the season, because you have all this time that is technically free but it’s really not,” Ahern said.
Weekdays begin at 5:15 am with workouts run by Strength and Conditioning Coach James Frazier and the training staff, according to Ahern. These workouts include a lift, agilities, and conditioning exercises. Head Coach Tim Murphy and all of the position coaches are not allowed to be at summer workouts due to NCAA rules.
Ahern said that he thinks “it’s a good thing; whatever we want to put in is what we are going to get out. We usually put in a lot of work.” The team’s senior leaders additionally organize workouts in the afternoon. Ahern said he believes that the work being put in now will pay off come September 19th, when Harvard will begin their season playing the University of Rhode Island.
The summer is not much different when you’re not on campus as a Harvard football player, with working and working out still a player’s top priorities. Jacob Mayes, a sophomore linebacker from Memphis, Tennessee stayed at home for the summer session. His days are spent much like they would be if he was at Harvard, working out and working a full time job.
Mayes has focused his time on recovering from a back injury, with a goal of being healthy when the players are expected to report back on August 19. Mayes looks forward to reuniting with his teammates in Cambridge. “All the times in the locker room are just the best, being around everyone,” he said.
Ahern will be looking to replicate his standout junior season, although he didn’t set any specific goals for the summer other than “getting in the best shape possible.” He was awarded first team all Ivy League for his play during Harvard’s undefeated 2014 season, along with 37 solo tackles and with two pass breakups.
“There’s nothing more special than Harvard-Yale especially last year, with college gameday, that was the pinnacle of my football career,” he said.
“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication. It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”
Throughout the year, Mark Stoops has been adamant that the quarterback competition is still ongoing. The competition features redshirt freshman Drew Barker and redshirt junior Patrick Towles. Throughout UK’s fifteen spring practices both quarterbacks took reps with the first and second teams. Coach Stoops has admitted that Towles has the advantage over Barker but would still not name him the starting quarterback. If Stoops wants to see improvement in SEC play, he needs to name Patrick Towles the starting quarterback.
Patrick Towles comes from legendary Highlands High School where he started for three years and won three state championships along with Mr. Football honors his senior year. During his freshman season at Kentucky he played in five games completing 19 of 40 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown. He had some impressive moments but when Stoops arrived in Lexington the following season Towles was redshirted. Towles was devastated like most people would be, but he decided to make the most of it. The following spring he showed the staff that he had developed into an SEC caliber quarterback. He was named the starter in fall camp over Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.
Towles had some impressive moments during Kentucky’s 2014 season, he threw for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. He showed his leadership in big games against South Carolina and Mississippi State. Some of his decision making against Louisville was questionable but after another year of maturing, Towles is ready for the next step. With playmakers all around him, it should be easy for Towles to put up big numbers this season. Look for Garret Johnson, Dorian Baker, and Ryan Timmons to fill bigger roles. If Coach Stoops and staff want to improve their record from last year they need to rally around Patrick Towles because of his maturity and leadership.
Mark Stoops is coming into his third full season as the head coach of Kentucky football. There have been a lot of improvements in every facet of the game since Stoops arrived to Kentucky. Stoops has showed his ability to recruit and sign top talent. Year 3 will be a very deciding year for Mark Stoops and his staff. The 2015-2016 Kentucky football roster is stacked with talent from across the country.
Let’s break down the offense and defense.
On offense, the Cats are returning playmakers Patrick Towels, Boom Williams, Garret Johnson, Blake Bone, etc. The incoming recruiting class has one stud that will likely make an immediate impact at the tight end position, CJ Conrad. The offensive line is young but talented. George Asafo Adjei is an early enrollee that has the body to become an All-SEC performer at the guard position. The offense’s success is dependent on Patrick Towles’ growth from last season as well as the hopeful emergence of Boom Williams as an elite runner.
The defense is going through a transformation year after losing two studs at defensive end, Bud Dupree and Zadarius Smith. DJ Elliot, defensive coordinator, will look to replace those two with a number of guys rather than just one player. Jason Hatcher will be a player to look out for in the SEC if he can maximize his potential. The line backing core is returning with Josh Forrest and Ryan Flannigan leading the way. The secondary is improved with another year of AJ Stamps and Marcus McWilson at the safety positions. The defense’s success will depend on the play of the cornerbacks, last year they gave up a lot of big plays that lead to touchdowns and losses. 3 seniors will start the year at corner but that may change quickly if they do not improve their play.
Dr. Eli Capilouto
President, University of Kentucky
Office of the President
101 Main Building
Lexington, Kentucky 40506
I write in my capacity as a concerned UK alumnus. (B.A. 1995, J.D. 1998, M.L.S. 1999) I have recently come to the conclusion that college athletes have an equitable right to a fair distribution of the $6 billion revenue that their labor generates. My goal is to persuade you to lead an initiative to recalibrate college athletics in a manner that achieves social justice for the players and restores higher education’s integrity. This letter will discuss how I became disillusioned with the status quo. I will then share my thoughts regarding a path forward that builds on reform ideas that Joe Nocera outlined in the New York Times Magazine.
I became sensitized to the issue by a thoroughly demoralizing article entitled “The Shame of College Athletics” by civil rights historian Prof. Taylor Branch. I grappled with its implications throughout the 2011-2012 basketball season. Like many UK alumni, I have fervently followed UK basketball for the majority of my life. The inequity inherent in the fact that Rodrick Rhodes received no compensation as a result of my 1993 purchase of a 12 jersey never occurred to me. To the extent that the unpaid labor issue crossed my mind, I figured that the entertaining performers on court at Rupp Arena receive plenty of benefits: free tuition, lodging, coaching, food, travel, access to UK doctors etc.
My thinking evolved after reading Prof. Branch’s article. I learned that the value of the in-kind benefits that revenue sport athletes receive is a small percentage of the money that their labor produces: “[t]he average Football Bowl Subdivision player would be worth $121,000 per year, while the average basketball player at that level would be worth $265,000.”
I finally decided that I could no longer consume college basketball in good conscience. The product is produced on the backs of a young, mostly unsophisticated (mostly black) group who are not permitted to have a voice to represent their interests. I am not content to merely avert my individual gaze. I hope to persuade you to take a public position in favor of UK’s withdrawal from the NCAA, market-driven compensation for the players and ending UK’s support of the myth of the “student-athlete.”
Alchemy and the Shibboleth of “Amateurism”
Prof. Branch eloquently argues that “‘amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’ are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes.” He expanded this point in an NPR interview: “[t]he hoax is that it’s the only place in American society where we impose amateur status on someone without their consent. They’re not amateurs because they’ve chosen to be. They’re amateurs because we said that’s what you have to be.” Prof. Branch’s article outlines the sad history that explains how the “student-athlete” concept was created to shield schools from workers’ compensation liability for incidents where players died or were paralyzed on the college football field.
Mark Emmert seems to perceive a threat in the expanding criticism of the NCAA cartel. In an apparent attempt to mute calls for reform, he instituted an annual cash stipend for college athletes in 2011. This was met with enough resistance by athletic directors that it was rescinded. The self-serving position that universities are unable to afford to pay $2000 a year to the performers in a $6 billion dollar entertainment industry brings the gross inequity of the status quo into stark relief.
On January 10, UK Athletics announced that it will fund the construction of new buildings on campus. It is hypocritical to suggest that paying the players would destroy the integrity of the competition but that it is okay for UK to spend the money without the players’ consent. I fail to understand the alchemy that leverages the shibboleth of “amateurism” to launder the otherwise corrupting loot into something virtuous when it funds UK facilities.
Recent incidents provide further evidence that the status quo is unjust. It was revealed on January 23 that the investigation of Miami football was compromised by NCAA investigator improprieties. The Miami controversy prompted Mark Story’s January 24 Lexington Herald-Leader column that asks this important question: “What if major college sports dropped all pretense of amateurism, adopted the Olympics model and allowed athletes to make whatever money the free market will yield?”. As Joe Nocera has written, the Olympics thrived after dispensing with silly amateurism absolutism.
Cleansing College Athletics: A Path Forward
Prof. Branch persuasively makes the case that college sports is shameful but he does not address the contours of what a fair system would look like. Joe Nocera added to the conversation by providing a viable path forward in his subsequent article entitled “Let’s Start Paying College Athletes.” His ideas for reform strike an admirable balance between fairness and reality. I want to offer some additional thoughts of my own that build on his piece. There are a host of other issues that would need to be carefully considered in any reform initiative. My purpose is to argue for a general paradigmatic shift that hinges on both a literal and philosophical withdrawal from the NCAA. Defenders of the status quo tend to find refuge in the thicket of details that would need to be addressed. My comments are based on a firm belief that the academy has sufficient expertise to debate and resolve them.
I think that we should acknowledge the reality that participating in big time college sports crowds out any opportunity for the athletes to receive a meaningful college education. Tensions between academics and athletics are always resolved in favor of the latter. As one example in a tsunami of others, a 9 p.m. Tuesday UK tip-off in Oxford, Mississippi is obviously incongruous with a reasonable academic schedule.
It is best to dispense with the charade that requires both the institutions and players to engage in Student-Athlete Theater. It is a self-evident facade that these people are equally interested in both athletics and academics. Forcing de facto professional athletes to go through the motions of pursuing a degree corrodes higher education’s integrity. The players refer to this as Majoring in Eligibility: lowered admission standards (“special admits”), no-show classes, less-than-rigorous grading, and even outright academic fraud in the preparation of athletes’ work etc. Rejecting the hoary sentimentalism that requires fealty to the “student-athlete” fiction would remove the incentives that drive academic corruption.
The players should have the same freedom as coaches to earn market-driven salaries and endorsements. Players who wish to become legitimate students can return to campus when their athletic careers end.Conforming to the requirements of the Kabuki Theater of Amateurism degrades higher education’s integrity. It also does great violence to the notion of fair treatment for the players.
In addition to a market-driven compensation that Joe suggests, I propose that revenue sport athletes receive a 1.5 year tuition credit for each year that they perform for universities. I think that a reasonable cap would be 6 years of tuition that can be used at any point during the athlete’s lifetime. The business of college sports can sufficiently fund this benefit if current growth is assumed. A lifetime credit would provide a fair opportunity for the 99% of athletes who do not end up in the NBA or NFL to achieve success beyond athletics. They would then actually be able to “receive [the] quality education” that you said they deserve in the Herald-Leader on June 19, 2011.
Universities should withdraw from the NCAA and bring the management of the business of college athletics into the academy. Universities have sufficient expertise to administer this system. Tenured faculty are expected to contribute to the campus community. Administration of of the business of college sports would fit within a reasonable expectation of their academic duties. Let’s return the nearly $300 million that the NCAA kept in the 2011-12 academic year to the players and universities. Let Mark Emmert find a new job that has a $1.7 million annual salary that is not a product of rent-seeking from powerless young people. Unmooring college athletics from the myth of the “student-athlete” would obviate any ontological justification for the NCAA.
The core fundamentals of a post-NCAA architecture should mirror other American pro sports: 1) roughly 50/50 split of the revenue between players and owner/universities; 2) the creation of a union that negotiates the terms of employment in a collective bargaining agreement; and 3) establishing a trust that will help provide affordable care to athletes that suffer long-term adverse health outcomes from playing college sports.
The tipping point of reform in college athletics appears to be approaching. There has been a rising tide of national criticism that has been published since Prof. Branch’s article. The sordid affair was the topic of Frank Deford’s recent NPR commentary. He said that he seeks one college president to publicly admit that “the NCAA is a sham and we should get out of it.” I ask that you demonstrate national leadership in the areas of integrity, institutional accountability and social responsibility by accepting Deford’s invitation.
In summary, I encourage you to revisit your thinking regarding the morality of the University of Kentucky’s support of a $6 billion dollar entertainment business that exploits young people and corrupts higher education. I ask that you read “The Shame of College Athletics” by Taylor Branch, “Let’s Start Paying College Athletes” by Joe Nocera and watch Frontline’s “Money and March Madness.” The University of Kentucky’s regal college basketball history makes it uniquely qualified to be the institution that leads the movement to achieve social justice for the “student-athletes” whose interests the academic community purports to serve. The prospect of your publicly repudiating the cynical hoax of amateurism may seem difficult for you to imagine. However, the University of Kentucky should never be criticized for “dreaming too little dreams.”
Cc: Dr. Richard Angelo, The Atlantic, Prof. Lowell Bergman, Jay Bilas, Prof. Taylor Branch, Coach John Calipari, Chronicle of Higher Education, Frank Deford, The Drake Group, Mark Emmert, Patrick Hruby, Romogi Huma, Sarah Jaffe, Matt Jones, Ashley Judd, Prof. Michael LeRoy, Lexington Herald-Leader, Mike and Mike in the Morning, NAACP, Joe Nocera, President Barack Obama, Prof. Dan Rascher, Jalen Rose, Kevin Scarbinsky, Prof. Ellen J. Staurowsky, SVP & Russillo, Mark Story, Derek Thompson, University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, Up with Chris Hayes, Dick Vitale, Travis Waldron, Prof. Frank X. Walker, Dan Wetzel, Mary Willingham and Prof. Andrew Zimbalist.
$6 billion is a conservative accounting. Prof. Dan Rascher, an economist at the University of San Francisco, explained to me that he erred on the side of exclusion in his analysis. A broader definition that includes other income (such as merchandise sales at university bookstores) as well as “non-revenue” sports income increases the figure to $10 billion. By contrast, the NBA earned $4 billion and the NFL took in $9 billion. The idea that college football and basketball are amateur nonprofit endeavors is at great variance with any reasonable definition of those terms.
 The Atlantic
, October 2011.
“The NCAA and Its Treatment of Student Athletes,” All Things Considered
, September 14, 2011.
 New York Times Magazine
, December 2011.
 Naturally, Ohio State QB Cardale Jones was suspended for questioning the visibility of the Emperor’s wardrobe in an October 2012 Internet post: “Why should we go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”
 Morning Edition, “Dear College Presidents: Break the NCAA’s Vise Grip on Athletes,” February 27, 2013.
PBS, March 29, 2011.
There are fewer & fewer of us who actually remember the first scandal whose name ended in ‘gate,’ thus inspiring every other controversy to adopt a similar suffix, whether somewhat comparable (“BridgeGate,” about Chris Christie & the GW Bridge closure), unwieldy (the Mark Sanford “AppalachainTrailGate” sex scandal) or downright silly (criticism of the President’s summer wardrobe became “TanSuitGate”). But part of why the -gate naming continues to this day is that the original Watergate scandal was a huge historic moment.
I was in jr. high when the hearings started (and thank you to those of you thinking, Gee, she doesn’t look THAT old! . . . . but I digress), and even then my die-hard liberal father knew that they would be important. He allowed me to stay home from school to watch key testimony, and made sure I was aware of the whole story as it unfolded.
If you look up ‘scandals ending in -gate’ you will get a list of over 100 in various categories (anyone remember “toiletgate” or “squidgygate”?), but ironically, so far no one has tried to ‘gate-ize’ what may turn out to be an equally historic moment – recent revelations about domestic and child abuse by professional athletes. Every day it seems new details emerge, another athlete is found to have beaten a child or girlfriend, and like in Watergate, it may turn out that the coverup is the worst part.
Who knows how historic this story may turn out to be with a few decades’ perspective? But in the meantime, here’s my musical take on it . . .
I would like to go to the new $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Texas to watch the movie The Matrix. I have no interest in watching a football game there. Full disclosure, I have never liked the Dallas Cowboys. I think it has something to do with a mean cousin who loved them and harassed me about it in grade school.
In a classic egomaniacal move Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones ordered a ginormous jumbotron that hangs 90 ft above the playing field spanning from one twenty yard line to the other, right in the likely flight path of many punts.
How big is this oversized HDTV? Its display screens are 159 by 72 feet and it weighs 432 tons. Talk about surround sound.
And talk about a design flaw. Their user experience expert must have been so focused on delivering an incredible experience for the fans attending the game that they completely forgot that the stadium was going to host actual football games.
How big a design error is this? You judge.
Christopher Moore, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, blogged about the physics of punting on ilovephysics.com:
” A study in 1985 of 238 punts made by 24 different NFL punters found that punters typically don’t punt for maximum distance, but to balance distance with hang time. The study found that on average, NFL punters kick the ball at an angle of 57 degrees with an average speed of 60 mph. With these parameters, a NFL punt would have an average height of about 90 feet, which is exactly the height off the ground of the Cowboy’s scoreboard. Air resistance would probably decrease this number 10-15%, though. More important, though, were parameters for “elite” kicks. An elite kicker can boot the ball with speeds up to 70 mph. At the same average angle, that results in a height over 120 feet.”
The physics of kicking a football suggest that the jumbotron will be hit a lot. This is a huge design screw up and Jerry Jones should be forced to move the HDTV screen into his home where I am sure it would easily fit without getting in the way.
But no, this is the NFL where team owners rule the roost. Jerry Jones petitioned (probably more like told) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that a new rule would have to be created to accommodate punts that will inevitably hit the video screen. And it was done. The NFL announced the following new rule:
“If a ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot”
That the rule will come into play is no longer hypothetical. In the third quarter of the first exhibition game played in the new venue between the Cowboys and the Titans, the backup punter for Tennessee, A.J. Trapasso, hit the jumbotron squarely and the ball bounced straight down. The punt was ruled dead and the down replayed.
During warm-ups before the game Trapasso had hit the screen monstrosity three times and the Titan’s starting punter, Craig Hentrich had nailed it a dozen times.
You would think they could have figured this out during the design process. There is no room for ego in good design and I still don’t like the Dallas Cowboys.
In response to The RP’s controversial piece published in The Daily Beast this weekend, advocating for an end to Big Sport’s War on Steroids, Reid Mann offered to the discussion his 2010 law school treatise on the steroid scare. Here’s an excerpt:
In 1990 the US Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Control Act which effectively placed steroids as a schedule III controlled substance. The events leading up to, as well as thoseincluded in the passage of this legislation, suggest a Congressional purpose void of rationality.As a result of the legislation steroids have been criminalized and extremely harsh penalties have been established for those who illegally poses or use steroids. This paper argues that (1) By enacting this law Congress has acted irrationally and arbitrarily and thus the legislation fails the rational bases standard; (2) Congress circumvented an established administrative drug process resulting in bad law and poor public policy; and (3) there are more effective and rational methodsto achieve Congress’s purposes of regulating anabolic steroids. The first part of this paper willdiscuss a brief history of steroids, their pharmacology, and the legislative history leading up totheir criminalization in 1990. The second part will identify why current steroids laws areirrational and arbitrary. The third part will discuss public policy issues, and lastly address better means for regulating steroids.
Click here to read the full paper.
In his latest column for The Daily Beast, The RP takes a controversial position on Big Sport’s War on Steroids — he claims that anti-PED hysteria is misplaced, hypocritical and completely ineffective. And his viewpoint is very personal. Read an excerpt:
I’m coming clean: I use performance enhancing drugs.
Indeed, I’ve had a serious testosterone problem.
Of course, unlike my fellow Jewish recovering politicians (ahem…Mssrs. Spitzer, Weiner and Filner), my body doesn’t produce enough of the über-manly hormone. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a free testosterone level akin to an octogenarian eunuch. Who’d been dead for a decade.
The option of traditional testosterone therapy, however, frankly frightened me. I’d heard the woeful tales of back acne, hair in strange places, ‘roid rage, the link to prostate cancer. I also remember vividly football superstar Lyle Alzado‘s final days, blaming his brutal death from brain cancer on PED overuse. And as an ESPN Radio addict, I’d been bombarded for years by its omnipresent, perversely mixed messages: the screaming sports host anti-steroid hysteria, interrupted every twenty minutes by snake-oily “Low T” elixir ads, using the kind of incredulous performance hype that would discomfit even Bernie Madoff.
So I tried an alternative route — medically-sanctioned natural vitamins and minerals, prescribed by a well-respected M.D., whose practice focused on integrative health.
Nothing. And I was suffering.
While our sex-obsessed culture focuses on the libido-suppressing side effects of a “Low T” diagnosis, the ramifications for me were quite more significant. My immune system was shot; my body had become a petri dish for every new virus of the week. Worse, my mood and energy levels had plummeted: Despite enjoying perhaps the happiest and most successful years of my life, there were far too many mornings when I struggled simply to get out of bed.
Click here to read the full piece.
I remember in my high school psychology class learning that ages 40-55 were the most “productive years.” (I hope that has since been adjusted to 45-60. But I digress.)
The theory goes that we spend our first 20-25 years getting educated and the next 15-20 mastering a trade or profession and then achieve at our work at the highest levels during that next phase (40-55) because we are finally “ready” and adequately “prepared.”
I am now age 50 and can report (at least in my case) that theory is at least half true. Maybe even 60% true.
But what about the other 40% that makes these years the “productive years?”
I think the other 40% of the cause of our spike in productivity is the looming sense of our own mortality.
At around age 40 we realize we don’t have the luxury to wait until we can produce the perfect concerto, write the best selling novel, deliver the life-changing lecture, launch the brilliant new business idea, or are finally ready to manage like a CEO case study before “going for it.” At age 40 perfection stops being our teacher and starts being our nemesis. And so we just start producing whatever we can and realize, to our surprise, it is better than we expected and others don’t notice the deficiencies (or at least don’t notice them as prominently as we feared.)
It is not that we have reached a point in our careers where we have finally matured or ripened to an ideal level where we can now produce at prodigious levels. Rather, we have reached the point in the game of our life where we either put some points on the board or risk being shut out.
It reminds me in football games of the final minutes when teams coming from behind go into their “Hurry Up Offense.”
These teams may not have scored a single point in the first half, but in the “Hurry Up Offense” they may post 14 points in 5 minutes. They must be in what psychologists call “Their most productive time of the game,” right? Or maybe they are simply playing against the clock. Or both. About 60% and 40%.
I think it is both.
So now…I am ready to start my day. “Huddle up. Wide receiver go for first down. On one. Break!”
You know how in business we love to use sports metaphors?
You know what I mean.
We are getting the deal “across the goal line” or go for a “Hail Mary pass” strategy since there are no “slam dunks.”
And so on.
I wonder if professional athletes use business slang to drive home their points when talking sports strategy?
For example, inside a football huddle is it likely the quarterback looks at the wide receiver and says “I am reaching out to you because I am calling our new out-of-the-box synergistic play that we have had in beta. On three, go long but stay on my radar screen until I am ready to ping you! If you score, you and I are going to haveot of face time externally and internally. Are you ready to move things to he next level?”
I hope not.
Continuing with my business managers sometimes over use of sports analogies…..
In most every sport you have highlight reels that celebrate the most extraordinary plays of the season.
Don’t over think this. Just say the first examples that pop into your mind.
“Name the three greatest conference calls you have ever been on.”
If I am truly and brutally honest with myself I can only think of two—again showing the imperfect analogue between sports and business.