When I first heard the news I was angry. How could they? Six players from MY school? Selling memorabilia? How dare they!

Suspensions didn’t disturb me. Hardly. Games, I reasoned, were only games. Further, players— all players— are replaceable.

Nor was I upset, frankly, by infractions. Perhaps it was a notion that the rules themselves were stupid; perhaps it was natural tuition that indeed, the things sold belonged to the players. Still, that’s not what bothered me.

I was ired…annoyed…even tormented….because, when those guys peddled their memories they tarnished mine as well. When they placed a price tag on their glory, they demeaned my school, our alma mater—the flagship of the Big Ten. And they sold off a piece of me.

Anger turned melancholy; I wondered: All the Sol’s Boys iron, the two batting titles, the ‘60 White Sox trophy—each boxed carefully, stored at home in perpetuity. Should I put them on Ebay? Would scrap dealer friends give me $50 bucks for the lot? Would I even take a thousand? I know I’m talking apples to oranges, but am I?

How sad it was, I sensed, how sad for the players—the young men bartering remnants of their glory years.

There’s that clump of grass, sandwiched in plastic and taped to my scrapbook. It’s from the end zone of the ’68 Michigan game. And a swizzle stick from the Jai Lai…and stubs from a Mershon concert. I would no more market these than I would Michael’s SAT scores, Jamie’s senior project, or Stacy’s Kent State treatise.

But then I turned to MY campus days, MY recklessness: from money wasted to a car destroyed to that scholarship I forgot to renew. And I recalled my Dad, each and every time putting his arm around me, kissing me atop the head, urging “Learn from your mistakes Little Boy and I promise some day we’ll laugh at this.” (God, how many times did I hear that?)

So I thought again of the players—no longer judging, but relating. Apples, oranges, it matters not. Some day—I promise them—they’ll laugh at this.

2 Responses to “DIAMONDS AND RUST”

  1. alan wieder says:

    In the end you are so much kinder than me. For I view it as a different question. My view is that the issue is the NCAA. How can these kids be suspended starting next year and not for the Sugar Bowl. The NCAA says it is because they did not receive proper ‘rules education.’ If that is the case why are they suspended at all. If connected to Cam Newton this is all about the NCAA and money, but never money for the ‘student’-athlete???

  2. Jackie says:

    I’m ready to be inspired for the new year. New entry blog, please…

Leave a Reply