Cal freshman Jaylen Brown making an impression — in classroom
BERKELEY — On a Friday evening early this fall, Mohamed Muqtar poked his head into one of the gyms at Cal’s student recreation facility and was greeted by a mix of activity. An indoor soccer match was being held on one side of the room and a 4-on-4 basketball game occupied half of the other court.
Taking jump shots at the other end was Jaylen Brown, the former high school All-American forward who will make his freshman debut for the Bears on Friday night against Rice. Brown was sharing the space with two female students in street clothes who were hoisting up shots.
Muqtar, director of student services for Cal athletics, took Brown aside at one point and suggested the basketball program will have its own practice gym someday.
“I didn’t come here for a practice facility,” Brown told him. “I’ve seen schools that have all that stuff.”
During the recruiting process, Brown, who came to Cal from Marietta, Georgia, was lured by slick facilities and palatial arenas on campuses across the country. A consensus top-5 national prospect, the 6-foot-7 youngster had his pick of virtually any school.
So why Cal, which hasn’t challenged for a Final Four since 1960?
“The kid is looking for a path,” Muqtar said. “He told me, ‘I can play in the NBA. But I’m looking for something.'”
This story is refreshing to read. Sports media outlets in 2015 rarely mention the word ‘student athlete’ anymore and it is discouraging that there is not enough emphasis put on the ‘student’ aspect of ‘student athletes’ by the media. It may sound like I am attacking the media because it seems to take advantage of athletes at all levels but I want to make it clear that I am not intending to attack the media, even thought at times I know it sounds like I am doing just that. The influence that media outlets have on the readers, viewers and listeners is enormous and I do not believe that the majority realizes how much of an impact media outlets have on our world. For example, a good portion of my friends work in the financial industry as accountants and the likes. Growing up all of my friends play sports and if they were like me they idolized some sort of athlete in the media from Rowdy Gaines to Michael Jordan. I can honestly tell you that growing up being immensely interested in professional sports, not once did it cross my mind that at some point pro athletes took education seriously. I take that back. I do remember making note of Shaquille O’Neal and Vince Carter going back to college to complete their degrees. But for the most part, education in pro sports was not a thought in my mind. Now, 26 years old and working in the media industry, I now realize how important education is for our youth athletes. As a student athlete, I always (for the most part) put my education first and that was because I never saw myself making it to the professional level of sports. At times I did struggle to understand the dynamic of balancing school and sport. I wanted excel at both but I could not find a way to so I took the safer route (which at the time I did not completely realize) and focused on my education. Being so intrigued in pro sports and how I viewed pro athletes by way of the media I was now faced with the problem of erasing my athlete mentality. Let me explain, when I say erasing the athlete mentality I specifically mean the physical aspect of athletics because mentally, I still have that athlete mentality. I am not going to bore you with anymore of my life because it will not help me get to the point I am making about student athletes.
Because I viewed pro athletes as not giving a fuck about their education I never realized what my education meant to my life after sports. I feel that today, sports media outlets produce insubstantial content to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible and ‘student athletes’ are viewed in the same light as pro athletes and that is a big problem in my mind. When kids who are student athletes see guys and girls in college and do not recognize that they are attending college first and foremost to pursue a higher education they end up thinking that if these athletes have no interest in their educations why should I? Not good. Let’s say that sports media outlets as a whole reach 100 million children who play sports but have yet to attend college. I would guess that maybe maybe 5,000 of them end up attaining a sustained career as a pro athlete. That is a very small portion of that 100 million children but the majority of the 100 million children probably see these student and pro athletes and think that they either focus on their education just as much as them or they do not give a shit about their education period. What I believe this does puts the idea in children that if they cannot make it to a high level in sports that they will won’t be able to do the same when it comes to their education. So what we end up having is a bunch of students who are not taking their education as seriously as they should be and probably never will.
Here’s the point. Jaylen Brown and student athletes need to have the spotlighted shined on them more. It may be a reach but I believe that student athletes grades showed be available to the public. We should be able to see that student athletes are putting as much into their education as they are their sport. I think it would give the next generation better role models.
Woof, this was probably a tough read.