WR 1- Mon/Wed 9:00am-10:50am
09 April 2012
Semester Project Pt. 2
Before they appeared on national television playing for thousands of adoring fans, the majority of professional athletes started off at some point as wide-eyed, college freshman recruits, eager to bring glory to their school and to themselves. The hierarchy was set. Starting off at the bottom of the totem pole, they knew that the only way to gain any kind of playing time was to work hard day in and day out, during every practice. Sure enough, the rookie freshman became the All-Star senior who led his school to a championship season. This triumphant story of amateurism resonates in almost every university team’s locker room. Today, however, a hotly debated issue in the National Collegiate Athletic Association threatens to change the very essence of what makes college sports what they are.
Back in my high school years, one of my good friends, Anthony Wilkerson, had earned a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University, thanks to his solid GPA and superior skills on the football field. He had been on the bench for most of his freshman season, but this year, he was set to get more carries, more yards and, hopefully, more touchdowns. My girlfriend had a close friend, named Karen, who was accepted into the University of Southern California. Ever since she received her acceptance letter, Karen vowed to invite us to go see a game at the Coliseum with her. As fate would have it, that same year, Stanford and USC were set to square off in Los Angeles! It was as if the universe had aligned itself perfectly for me. The College Football Gods had sown the seeds and I was about to reap from the glorious harvest.
After receiving the news that we would get the opportunity to see our beloved friend Anthony play close to home, my girlfriend and I instantly starting making preparations. Days-Off were requested at work, carpools were arranged and Trojan game-day outfits were purchased.
When Game Day arrived, we packed our supplies, set our favorite road trip playlist and started our drive up to Los Angeles. We left early, so we were spared much of the heavy traffic that is usually expected. However, as we reached Downtown and exited the freeway onto Exposition Blvd, we found ourselves submerged in a slow moving river of cars and college football pedestrians. It was as if the entire city had been painted red, yellow and white. No matter what direction we looked at, there was USC merchandise as far as the eye could see, with a few white Stanford jerseys speckled throughout. We slowly weaved our way through the masses of vehicles and students, delving deeper into the heart of the campus. As we drove further, we saw the glass-and-steel office buildings of Downtown Los Angeles turn into beautiful campus lawns and pathways that lead to majestic brick-and-mortar Lecture Halls and libraries. Passing the main academic buildings, we drove through the neighborhoods of sorority and fraternity houses, known to the students as “The Row”. Each house had its own set of giant, plywood, Greek Letters propped up on the front lawn, letting everyone know what brother/sisterhood they belonged to. The entire school seemed to let out an aura of pride and tradition, and I could picture the many generations of students who walked through those very halls; each of them leaving their unique story embedded in the campus forever. “I totally should have stuck with football during high school,” I told my girlfriend, fighting back a feeling of envy, “Imagine how cool it would have been to get recruited to this school!” “Or you could have just gotten good grades, like Karen,” she scolded. “Oh, ya. That too.” I replied ruefully.
After scouring the school for a space to park, we finally found an open side street located a mile or so off campus. Once we found a safe enough spot to park, we joined the moving mass of fans that were making their way towards...