Friday, November 22, 2013

An FSU Teacher's Lament. From

by Adam Weinstein

We love the game. We love the players, too, even when they scare us.

Like the blue-chip defensive secondary leader who wrote his personal essay for an openly gay professor on the time in high school he gleefully commanded a posse to bash a girly fag near to death, caved the queer's face, and ruined his smile.

Or the hulking offensive star who brought a friend to help him corner a short, pretty instructor alone in her closet office and scare her within an inch of her life for telling the athletic department he was clowning in class.

Or the top offensive player who sought tutoring from me on a plagiarized paper while tweaking on uppers. Or the standout lineman who never showed for my lectures or turned much in except for a term paper written in someone else's voice, then magically disappeared from the class roll when I resisted the team handlers who pressed me not to fail him.



  1. I can't help but think many professors are aware of stories like this already. Any of us who teach at big time football programs certainly have gone through what Weinstein has and worse.

    The only thing that saved me was developing a bad reputation with athletes. That stopped them from ending up in my classes. But I was lucky not to get any real psychos. I just got the typical BIG DUMB JOCK who was so used to being praised that someone taking points off because they couldn't bother to type an assignment stunned them.

    When I was a grad student I was a TA in a class with someone who's won a couple of Super Bowls. He was a really great kid. It's not always the case that athletes are trouble.

    But when coaches and "helpers" enable them, then it's all bet's off.

    Like this page, by the way. Good luck with it.

  2. I do not work at a school with a big time ANYTHING sports program. But I have a lot of athletes who still expect a lot of consideration. And my experience is it all depends on the coach, NOT the players. If the coach has a bad attitude about things, the players pick up on that and work for every break in class.

    But the right coach, like our basketball coach, for example, makes all the difference. Our hoops coach kept one of our top two players out of play this week because of an academic matter that I only know a little about. That sends a message to students and faculty!

  3. I like Hiram's idea a lot.

    And a lot just depends on the kid. I had a basketball player in my class when I was in my 2nd or 3rd year of teaching. He was a superstar in college and played a number of years in the NBA. He was among the most conscientious students I've ever had, and he didn't need to be.

    Someone raised that kid right and for whatever reason he didn't take the easy passes that often go to talented athletes.

  4. Always starts with the coach. I taught at a basketball powerhouse when I was very green and the coach was a great guy. He met with professors personally and said, "If he messes up, you call me directly."

    It didn't happen much, but one semester I did have a player of his who did a wholesale cheat using papers he hid in a hat. I flunked the kid for the test, called the Dean, and left it at that.

    The next day the coach was at my door, steaming mad. Not about what I'd done. That was all correct. But he said, "I could have made a bigger impact on my players if I'd been on his punishment. I want them to be scared of losing their eligibility like Xxxxxx has just done. You and I are on the same team."

    I know the "same team" thing was a little corny - I mean, he's a coach! - but I took him at his word, and I only ever heard good things about his program.

  5. I've had one bad coach over the years and her players were terrible because of it. Everything had to be an extension. And in many cases these were things that were unavoidable as travel for the team actually took place during a lot of our actual classtime - so not possible to take exams or do timed assignments if the teams on a buss to Philadelphia. So the athletic director and the Deans decided athletes could sign up for classes they KNEW they weren't going to be able to attend.

    1. As an example of some non-misery for once;

      I once worked under a dean who told athletes that their job was to schedule their classes around their athletic schedule. Just like in real life *gasp*, you juggle a schedule and make it work.