September 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Baron Batch (20) stretches on the field prior to playing the New York Jets at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Opinion: College Football Needs More Baron Batch

Jul 27, 2013; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Baron Batch (20) greets fans on the way to the practice fields during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 27, 2013; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Baron Batch (20) greets fans on the way to the practice fields during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are very few, if any, voices of reason in college football today. Led by ESPN, most journalists, talking heads and fans decry the NCAA, major universities and rich people everywhere for what they’ve done to profit off the poor, exploited student athlete.

Such views perpetuate the ridiculous notions that college athletes should unionize, receive added benefits and even become salaried employees. What we’re facing (in my opinion) is the end of college football as we know it. Before long, lawyers will have reduced the Big 12, SEC, Pac-12 and friends into nothing more than a developmental league for the NFL, where lesser athletes can bide their time before getting called up to the pros.

Someone with influence, wisdom and experience needs to speak up, refocus everyone and remind them of the value of education. Fortunately, Baron Batch did just that in a recent interview with Viva the Matador.

It all boils down to personal responsibility. Does a doctor get paid to be a doctor before he is a doctor? No. Because that’s stupid. Does an engineer get paid to be an engineer before he is one? No. Because that’s stupid. So why should a college football player be paid as a professional before he is a professional? He shouldn’t. Yes college football is a big time business, but so is college in general. And there is no way that you can tell me the kid who is working their way through school to be an engineer damn sure doesn’t want to be paid for being an engineer before he actually is one. Everyone wants things that they haven’t earned. I think the discussion as to weather athletes should be getting paid is irrelevant. I think the bigger question is, how did it get to the point where we are talking about this. When did education lose value? When did money become the answer to a human condition of laziness and entitlement? It hasn’t nor will it ever. It is the condition of the student athlete that has made them feel like they deserve to be paid. And the condition is the problem, not the questions about a solution. Why is it that college athletes are herded into classes that they wont ever use or degrees that they know they will never benefit from? How is that acceptable? How is sabotaging a students life course acceptable? How can you say its about school, and knowingly enroll student athletes in majors that just allow them to get by? So how can the argument be made that someone who really is a poor employee be paid by an employer that promotes their own employees laziness? Like I said. It is the condition of the institution that needs to be questioned and not the payroll of its “employees”. The question is arbitrary. The condition is everything. And in my firm opinion I believe that until the condition is corrected money can never mend the problem.

I’ve never heard college athletes compared to medical or engineering students, but the analogy is certainly valid. Anyone who’s ever completed an engineering degree, or any degree for that matter, knows that college done the right way is a grind. Working that hard for four, five, six or more years with no salary or benefits, hemorrhaging money with student loans, is difficult, but it’s all done with the end in mind.

Money is not the answer, but maybe a better education is. If anyone can tell us what the student athlete experience is like, it’s Mr. Batch, and he’s claiming they doesn’t receive the full benefit of college education. If that’s true, then perhaps the answer is less time spent on football and more in the tutor’s office. Perhaps student athletes should be free to choose whatever discipline they desire, with a special “professional athlete” track established for those who aspire to pro careers as players and coaches.

More individuals with sense and experience like Baron need to speak up, voice their opinions, and educate players at places like Northwestern about the value of free educations. Decision makers need to listen to someone with insight who’s made the most of his opportunity and sees areas where improvement is needed, like Baron.

Give athletes the tools and education they need to succeed long after their college careers are over, don’t throw money at the problem and expect it to be a solution.

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