Friday, November 21, 2008

A Rhodes Scholar-Athlete?!?

Some of ya'll knock me for being a serial hater overly critical all the time, and never saying anything good about black folks. Heck, I've even been called "secretly white" by some misguided reader.

Reality is, folks, whether they admit it or not, don't care about "positive" stories. We're conditioned to gravitate towards things that cause fear. TeeVee news is all about "if it bleeds, it leads". The front page of the newspaper follows suit. It's only natural that bloggers do the same, whether we realize it or not.

Our "conditioning makes it necessary."[1]

That said, when I read a story like the one that follows, even I don't know how to act. This is such great news, because the young man chooses to defy the stereotypes and low expectations that even his coaches and AD have for him.

Few things would keep Florida State safety Myron Rolle from playing football on Saturdays. A Rhodes Scholarship could be one of them.

Rolle, recently named a finalist for the academic honor, will interview with the scholarship selection committee Nov. 22 in Birmingham, Ala. His FSU teammates will be at Maryland that day, playing the Terrapins in a game that could decide the ACC's Atlantic Division title.

The junior said it's tough to be away from his team on a Saturday, but he made the decision to be in Birmingham.

"I thought about the fact this might come up a while ago," Rolle said. "But it didn't really crystallize in my mind until a couple of weeks ago, when I learned I could be a finalist.

"It really hit me, but this is a priority to me and my family. This is something really special."

Each year, the Rhodes Trust affords 32 students from across the country the opportunity to study at England's Oxford University.

Rolle, who has a 3.75 GPA and wants to study medical anthropology, said he has the support not only of Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, but also of Athletic Director Randy Spetman.

Rolle is trying to become the second Florida State athlete in recent years, and first football player at the major-college level in more than 10 years, to win a Rhodes Scholarship. FSU's NCAA champion shot putter Garrett Johnson received the honor in 2005.
Just for the sake of reference, Rolle isn't some 5th string d-back who barely plays. He was one of the most highly recruited players coming out of high school a few years back, and would be a high-round pick should he decide to enter the NFL draft this year, after his early graduation. Dude is no slouch on the field, or in the classroom.

What's interesting here is what's not really said in this story, but that I've read elsewhere. Namely, FSU's athletic director, Randy Spetman, publicly criticized Rolle for a subpar Sophomore season because he was "focusing more on the books than he was the field". I think that's pretty damn pathetic to be honest with you, and it only adds fuel to my theory that college athletes whose sports generate revenue should be paid for their contributions.

Up yours, Randy Spetman!

Thankfully, Rolle will have his academics to fall forward on, not back. And just in case you're wondering, the ACC went ahead and moved back the kickoff time so Rolle can both make his interview and play in the game the evening of the 22nd. I guess that says something about the conference's priorities. What exactly, I'm not so sure.

Either way, whether he's one of the lucky 32 or not, well done Myron Rolle! Well done.

Question: Do you think bloggers (your trulys included) dwell on the negative too often, or is this simply human nature? Should the team have rescheduled the game so Rolle could make his interview and play? Do we make too much of the "dumb jock" stereotype or is Myron Rolle really the exception, not the rule? Got any notable "dumb jock" stories? Did I just go negative again?

Academics trump football for Rolle [Palm Beach Post]

FSU's Rolle choosing Rhodes interview over Maryland game [SportsIllustrated]

[1] Let's see which literary genuius is able to first identify the classic that I cribbed this line from. My money is on Uppity Negro.

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