Thursday was football media day for the Pac-12 conference, an annual event that gathers the coaches and several players from all 12 member schools in one place to talk with sports reporters about the upcoming season.
Stanford tailback Bryce Love, arguably the best player in the Pac-12 heading into this season, was unable to make media day in person, so he Skyped into the proceedings, and addressed the media via video chat.
You see, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up couldn’t be there in person because he was taking summer courses, in order to ensure he could graduate in December. He’s pre-med, majoring in human biology with an interest in pediatrics and stem-cell research.
To most discerning humans, a college student placing his academics above athletics is commendable. To CBS Sports columnist Dennis Dodd, it is an absolute disgrace, the profound ramifications of which could be felt across college football for years to come.
“Try to envision Tim Tebow in his heyday skipping SEC Media Days of because, well, school,” Dodd wrote. “Right or wrong, that wouldn’t have happened. The need to better himself, the conference and his school would have outstripped another summer school lecture.”
Wait … what?
The notion is so absurd it reads like parody. Dodd is upset because Love — a student-athlete whose only compensation is an education, because the NCAA’s outdated, racist notions of amateurism keep him from being paid — decided to prioritize said education. Mind you, he wasn’t skipping a football game, or even a practice: he opted to attend class instead of answering the same dumb and repetitive questions from dozens of reporters like Dodd.
“In one sense, you want to scream: Stanford doesn’t have a private jet it can put Love on for an afternoon to promote himself, the school and the conference?!” Dodd wrote.
Look, it’s likely there were at least a few reporters who attended media day primarily to speak to Love, or that an editor or two had to change their coverage plan for the day. Is that frustrating? Sure. But there were 12 head coaches and many other star football players in attendance, to say nothing of the fact that Love still spoke to reporters on video! There were plenty of other stories to tell; it wasn’t a day scheduled around Love.
So why is Dodd so upset? Primarily, it seems he is afraid that, in the future, other amateur student-athletes will follow Love’s lead.
“His absence does set a dangerous precedent. This is going to give every star player an excuse to Skype in,” he wrote.
Student-athletes who are, for one day, permitted to prioritize “student” rather than “athlete?” The absolute horror. What’s next? Football players who want to get paid for their labor? It’s a scary world out there.