Posted on April 7, 2009

Reading Between the Lines of a Player’s Mangled English

Allen Johnson, News & Record (Burlington, North Carolina), April 5, 2009


For all the excitement March Madness can bring, it also brings the sound of too many young college basketball players mangling the English language in tortuous post-game interviews.

One player from Chattanooga, the champ of UNCG’s league, the Southern Conference, offered this reaction to this year’s NCAA pairings: “When we seen that we got UConn, I mean, we was happy to be up there on the board. Coming here, we believed we can be one of the teams in history, to make history and beat UConn. It’s all about believing in the system, believing in yourself. When you toss up that ball, anybody can win. Ain’t just ’cause they UConn it’s a lock. It’s a basketball game. Both teams we got to play, they just like us.”


Of course, manglers of the King’s English are not consigned merely to the college basketball court. Or the football field.

But colleges and universities make significant money off the labors of these students. According to a recently released Forbes magazine ranking of the top-grossing college basketball programs in the nation, “amateur” athletics is big business. For instance, UNC-Chapel Hill placed No. 1 in the nation, worth nearly $25 million in 2008, including $16.4 million in operating income.

With all that money rolling around and these teams representing, after all, institutions of higher learning, something is fundamentally wrong when a “student-athlete” speaks so poorly.


{snip} But the vast majority of these athletes won’t make professional rosters. Less than 1 percent of the Division I football players go on to NFL careers. And only 1 percent of the 3,900 Division I basketball players even qualify as pro prospects.


Further, according to an analysis of this year’s NCAA tournament men’s teams, only 48 percent of them graduated three-fifths or more of their players. Ninety-seven percent of the teams in the women’s tournament did. (What do the women know that the men don’t?)

Only 32 percent of African American male players, who comprise the lion’s share of most teams’ rosters, are graduating. By contrast, 70 percent or more of white players are completing their college educations.

The solutions?

* Hold these athletes to higher expectations in the classroom and stricter oversight. If a free education is their compensation for competing in a school’s name, see to it that they get an education.

* Provide pre-college academic preparation for new recruits.