Stanford University just has that ring when you hear it. You get a picture of a “utopian” world where everything is perfect.
But Stanford strikes an odd balance, where we don’t belong on either side of the tracks. On one side of the tracks are the elite universities with pristine academic reputations—but unspeakably bad sports programs. On the other side of the tracks are universities that may not have the strongest academics, but are powerhouses athletically. Stanford occupies an odd space where student-athletes are not only All-Americans on the field but 4.0 students as well. And for anyone who doubts Stanford’s athletic prowess: Stanford has the most national championships in the NCAA.
This past week’s response to Bryce Love’s absence at the Pac-12 Media Day really illustrates just how unusual it is for a school to have simultaneous success in academics and atheltics. Stanford brought two players not named Bryce Love to the Pac-12 Media Day. According to many Heisman voters, Love is pretty good at football. Last year, Love had over 2000 yards rushing, won the Doak Walker Award, and pretty much played all season on one ankle. I won’t debate who Love the football player is, but who Love the person is. Love is majoring in human biology and he loves school. He loves what he does off the field so much that he is taking more classes right now to graduate in December. This is one of the many reasons he has been dubbed Dr. Love.
So this KID—who is living his DREAM to be the best STUDENT-ATHLETE possible—chose to attend classes instead of attending the Pac-12 Media Day. And was he rewarded for having his priorities right? No! He is now being crucified for his absence from the Pac-12 Media Day. For all the media loudly proclaims its love of amateurism and the importance of the student-athlete, when it comes time to put their money where their mouths are, individuals in the media suddenly started betraying their true feelings: one that emphasized the athlete, and not the student.
The reasons offered by the critics for why Love should have attended were comical! Some said it would hurt his chances to promote himself for his upcoming Heisman run. Are you joking? Stanford never wins the Heisman anyway, no matter how deserving! Heisman voters just don’t watch Stanford football. Love could promote himself every day on social media, do the Heisman pose every touchdown, and he would complete the great Stanford tradition of finishing the Heisman vote in second place! Other critics commented that Love’s absence was a bad look for the conference as whole. What? It suddenly falls on the shoulders of an unpaid student-athlete to promote the conference. Aren’t there people getting paid good money to promote the conference; why are the critics suddenly placing the burden on a student? And then to put the cherry on top, Love took some time out of his day to do an interview over Skype, but the critics turned a blind eye to it!
Bryce, don’t apologize for anything. You represent Stanford both on and off the field. You are busting your butt to do what you want in life—and are securing your future after football. When you run for 2000 yards again—when you help Stanford compete for a championship—hell, even when you come in second place once again for the Heisman—just remember that you are the epitome of what a student-athlete ought to be.
You deserve to stand on both sides of the tracks.