As is the case with many controversies in our hypermedia world that’s always looking for the next item to throw into the news grinder for the day, it took just one misguided whine to set the wheels in motion.
One poor student at UCLA found the right dopey ears to bother the right dopey online people to create a minor dopey debate designed to get the dopey among us all riled up for the next 24 hours.
Apparently it didn’t sit right with some that cornerback prospect Justin Combs was offered a full-ride scholarship to UCLA.
Who’s Justin Combs? He’s the son of rapper/producer/actor P. Diddy, the Willie Beamen wanna-be who allegedly didn’t get the part of the quarterback in the movie ‘Any Given Sunday’ because of an uncoachable throwing motion. To you, and on the Letter of Intent, that’s Sean Combs, who’s worth about a half a billion dollars and could easily afford the four years of tuition.
That Justin is going going, back back, to Cali Cali and getting a free ride is totally and completely within the norm of college recruiting. Students get into snooty colleges all the time because they’re legacies or have superpower one-percenter parents who can throw out their pocket change and have a library built. And yeah, when it comes to recruiting and bringing a spotlight to UCLA football, of course it’s an advantage to have Diddy’s kid there. USC has Snoop Dogg. Miami had Luke Campbell. UCLA has Vitamin Water.
Justin Combs is a football player and he earned a scholarship. Lots of parents of scholarship football players can afford the tuition — no one beefed when Barry Sanders Jr. got a ride to Stanford this February. On publicity as well as within the rules of the game it is a good play for the Bruins. Combs is smart and is considered to be a legitimate recruit. He is ranked as a two-star cornerback, No. 133 nationally at his position, by Scout.com. Three other players in the UCLA 2012 commit class hold two-star rankings as well.
So of course it was a smart move for UCLA, and the scholarship has already paid for itself in publicity just by the hullaballoo that came from the offer.
The problem is the misguided attitude of those who find it wrong that Combs, or any football player, gets a scholarship while so many students are getting hosed by loan-sharked student debts and outrageous tuition hikes. Football programs aren’t the problem, and Combs getting a scholarship certainly isn’t an issue. People are talking about Combs and his free rides. Few talk about the water polo and golf teams.
Just because the smaller-ticket sports exist doesn’t mean the public actually cares enough to turn them into revenue generators.
Monster football programs often eat what they kill in terms of revenue, but the reason athletic departments end up so far into the red is because the revenue sports have to save the non-revenue sports.
It’s not politically incorrect to point out that non-revenue sports are a drain. Most people know someone who was only able to get through college because they could run fast or spike a ball, but that doesn’t mean what they do is any more or less important to the fabric of the university than someone majoring in something like Advanced Dancing.
The argument against Justin Combs is that he’s taking a scholarship away from another football player, not from some other athlete, and that might hurt the revenue-producing sport that could possibly raise more dough if it could use that scholarship on another quality player. If you want to complain, ask why someone deserves a scholarship for playing a non-revenue sport rather than for being fantastic at violin or physics, and be glad that the football and basketball players aren’t getting paid straight cash to play, like some think they should.
Now, did Biggie have a son who could clog up the middle of a line? UCLA could really use that.