People sometimes ask me why I hate college sports so much. The story below is a pretty good example of what I find so hideous about the entire industry.
"Student-athlete." Please. They’re employees, well-compensated—far better than they generally seem to acknowledge—but lacking in most of the basic rights granted to the majority of employees. They’re just cash cows that the universities plunder by making these sorts of deals regardless of the negative effect it might have on the rest of the life of the "student" in question.
And despite the fact that study after study has shown that the vast majority of the big-ticket sports—mainly football and basketball—don’t actually pay for themselves but are instead a drain upon the finances of the schools, the institutions continue to kill off the better programs such as, perhaps, wrestling or crew, in order to try to grab the desperately envied golden ring of prestige which comes with a Final Four or bowl appearance. Because, you know, no one freakin’ wants to go to Yale or Harvard, perennial losers when it comes to football.
Feh. A pox upon them all.
Oct. 18, 2005, 4:26 PM ET
Arkansas St. player refuses to wear adidas
ESPN.com news services
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Arkansas State's leading returning scorer is sitting out because he refuses to wear adidas shoes, which Indians players are obligated to wear because of a school contract.
Jerry Nichols, a 6-6 outside shooter who averaged 9.6 points per game last year, has had two knee operations and said he was wearing adidas shoes when he first hurt the knee. The school says Nichols has to dress by its rules.
"We have a contractual agreement with [adidas], and it's not any different than any number of other contracts with other schools. There is not any stipulation or any research that shows any shoes are worse than any others," Arkansas State athletic director Dean Lee told The Jonesboro Sun newspaper.
Nichols, who last year shot 41.8 percent from 3-point range, practiced over the weekend while wearing Nike shoes, placing tape to cover the brand's insignia. Nichols met with Lee on Monday, and Nichols was told to wear adidas shoes or sit. Nichols sat.
"We've been producing outstanding quality equipment for years," said Terrell Clark, an adidas spokesman. "We take this very seriously and we are looking to handle this in a positive manner."
Nichols said he was wearing adidas shoes when he suffered a knee injury in 2001 while playing for Walters State Community College.
"I tore my ACL in adidas in junior college back in 2001, and I'm not comfortable wearing adidas," Nichols said.
Nichols has had two surgeries on his right knee, including one in late March following last season. ASU's basketball team wore Nike shoes last year but that contract has expired.
"Adidas shoes are part of our uniform," Lee said.
Lee said there is no room for compromise and that the school is obligated to put adidas shoes on the feet of athletes football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and track teams, along with several other sports.
"This is not picking on any one student athlete. This goes for all student athletes that are under that contract," Lee said.
Nichols said he may seek relief in court if the university does not change policy.
"If I have to miss this whole senior season for some shoes, why wouldn't I [sue]?" Nichols said. "I have done too much this summer, working out, staying up here all summer to waste a year. So if it has to come to a legal issue then I will."
ASU coach Dickey Nutt said he wants Nichols on the court, considering the team has its first exhibition in less than three weeks.
"I need all my players to be at practice, but it's out of my hands. That matter is in the administration's hands, so I'm just referring all questions to them," Nutt said.
©2005 ESPN Internet Ventures.
Post-script—I like this part: "There is not any stipulation or any research that shows any shoes are worse than any others." Well, then, doesn’t that also mean that there’s no research proving that any shoes are any better than any others?
Feh, I say. Feh.