Monday, April 28, 2008

Ready for a Challenge?

I suppose I may have left out the most mentally tough sport from the current poll. Typical sports fans usually don't think about triathalons or Ironman competitions - maybe that is why those individuals are typical. Just reading about Jeff Conine's recent obsession (NYT, 4/23/08) may make a person anxious and fatigued:

“It’s all about being mentally tough,” he said. “With long-distance triathlon, it’s all about knowing when to push your body and when to rest and persevering through these boring six-hour rides and three-hour runs.”

Sounds like he is ready for the challenge.

Speaking of challenges, how about the UMass equestrian team? It is about to embark on the national scene as it is a regional champion ... and it has succeeded despite not being a recognized (funded) sport on campus. Somehow, the team (whose coach is a volunteer) has managed to topple its opponents, raise travel funds, and stay committed despite it not being a scholarship sport.

Goes to show what a true team can do when it's up against all odds.

And, talk about a challenge ... the following is my recent letter to the New York Times in response to its article, "In Choosing a College, It’s Prestige Vs. Debt," which highlighted a family that is expecting to receive scholarship money based on soccer skills.

To the Editor:

Unfortunately for Rosalie Glauser and her son Tex, the promise of a soccer
scholarship from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is no more likely
than the New York Knicks nullifying Isiah Thomas’ coaching future in Madison
Square Garden. MCLA is an N.C.A.A. Divison III institution - translation: no
athletic scholarships.

Contingent upon the sport, there may be 200 to 400 four-year schools
committed to success in college athletics, yet none of them officially
allocate funds to support individual athletes alone. Yes, there are
financial strategies that may assist prospective student-athletes (specified
alumni funds or need-based money that is more accessible via recruiting
support), but there exists no pure pool for sport excellence.

In a time that demands coherent explanation of higher education financing,
it is a monumental mistake to presume that a college education will be
compensated in full based solely on athletic prowess.

-OE, 4/19/08


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