Written by Ben Troupe
It’s Monday morning and while everyone else is on his or her way to class, I’m on my way to the go workout — the 7AM workout, which is the only one I could do to fit my schedule. The workout ends around 8 or 8:05 and my first class starts at 8:15 and its clear across campus. I actually have to sprint to make it, which I normally do, and when I step into the class some type of statement made by my professor usually follows it.
Anyway this is what I do on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursdays I have to workout at 6 AM because my first class is at 7:15, just business as usual. Going along to get along, just being grateful that I get an opportunity to get a free education at a great university.
Who am I, you ask? I am a football player or in better terms, a student-athlete. I am the person who is supposed to just do what I am told and nothing else. I am also classified as an amateur. That’s crazy, right? Of all things to refer me as I get the term amateur. I am the same person who helps my coach get a million dollar contract and also helps my school make hundreds of millions of dollars, but I am an amateur.
I pack stadiums with hundreds of thousands of people every Saturday, both home and away, to come see me play, but I am an amateur. Because of this amateur’s popularity and that of the conference known as the SEC that I represent and have even been featured on commercials to help generate more revenue in an effort to continue to pack stadiums and sell merchandise. I am the amateur that does this. I have a big problem with the word amateur and the reason is because they call me that to keep my teammates and I in a box to limit what we can and, more importantly, what we can’t do.
That box known as “amateurism” is set up to where that everything I do and every move I make is calculated so that I do not do anything that I have not been told to do and that I meet the expectations set by my coach and the university. Oh, and if I decide to go outside of this boundary they will make a statement and get rid of me. What are amateurs supposed to do you ask? Go to class, be attentive, ask questions, and by all means do not bring any negative attention to the team and myself. If you’re allowed to be on social media its monitored more closely than an ADT burglar alarm system because they don’t trust that I am capable enough to tweet on my own without guidance. That is so confusing because I thought that college was a place for you to discover your talents and interests and expand on those interests to help you become a better student and learn from those mistakes or successes. Thats only if you are not an amateur, I’m sorry an athlete. Make no mistake about it, I am there to play football and I am reminded of that every time I am in a meeting or on the field. I have dreams and aspirations of being a doctor or a lawyer or maybe even working for NASA, but only, and I do mean only, if what I want to do fits into the confines of not taking away from my real major — playing football.
Listen I am not here to bash the NCAA. It allowed me to go to college and achieve great things athletically as well as beyond the playing field, but what I will say that I am a lot of things but being called an amateur is not one of them.
I am supposed to go along to get along, right? Do not do anything besides what you have been told or what is the politically correct thing to do or say. Well, I am sorry but that way of thinking or coaching is over. The football team at Mizzou showed that.
These young men understood their worth and, more importantly, they understood their power and the platform for which to display that power.
What bothers me is that with so may people who understand and support the cause and reasoning behind the sacrifice and courage it took for the Mizzou football team to make the statement that they made, there are still the few who think that these amateurs, I mean athletes, should just shut up and play.
What if they were 9-0, would they still have done it?
In my opinion, yes. They understood that what they were doing far exceeded any athletic accomplishment. I feel that what they exhibited was intelligence and understanding; that while the statement they made is only the beginning, it is a great start in players using their voice and their unique and powerful position to get the powers that be that to listen to them instead of saying good job son or good game young man.
There is a big difference in being grateful and being satisfied. Being content versus being complacent. Being silent versus being fed up. Being courageous versus being afraid. I feel that these players showed an uncanny instinct to know that to get the attention of these decision makers they must affect the two most important things when it comes to big business, I mean football, and that is revenue and reputation.
Make no mistake about it, their will be backlash and consequences from the Mizzou football teams decision to not play and not all of it will be positive, but I was always told and taught that life is like the game Tetris, that once you fit in you disappear.
I’m so encouraged by the fact that these players chose to stand out.
But then again, what do I know? I am just a former amateur turned professional who chooses to be a voice for amateurs.
Always remember to keep God first through infinity and be persistent at being consistent.