If you’ve ever read any of my columns, you know that I am pretty open about my personal life. There are no secrets or withholdings in my writing, but with such transparency, comes arguable bias. I’ve never claimed or attempted to simply report the facts; this isn’t the evening news or the Sunday paper. And because I am allowed to pick the stories that I cover, I choose topics that interest me.
When I first began covering the news for TFM, it was evident that many of the male readers would’ve preferred that I stayed off the “men’s” side. Who did I think I was? Girls don’t know about politics. Didn’t I have a cooler to paint?
Admittedly, this was upsetting at first, but then I remembered that I was smart. I went to a good college. And to hell with you guys. I actually worked in politics. In other words, yes, I knew what I was talking about, and no, I did not have a cooler that needed painting. But when I came across this story, I very much hesitated over whether or not I should cover it. It not only dealt with the military, it dealt with football, as well. While any gender studies professor would scold me for adhering to Westernized, heterosexual gender norms, I couldn’t help but think that this topic screamed “men.” Would the guys be pissed over a girl writing about football? Perhaps. Hell, my college didn’t even have a football team. What would they think about that?
The more I thought about it, the more I contemplated simply letting one of the guys take the lead, I came to the realization that while this topic may have “boys club” written all over it, I actually was the right person to cover this story. You see, while my school may not have a football team, I still have an appreciation for the game and love attending both college and professional games. But more importantly, I’m an Army Brat; so when people mess with the military, I channel my inner Sarah Palin and become full on Mama Grizzly. I’m defensive, I’m protective, and when it comes to the armed forces, I do not take shit. Alas, I think that Steven Rhodes, the man at the center of this story, deserves to have his saga shared by someone who is absolutely pissed off about it, and that someone is me.
Steven Rhodes is a 24-year-old Marine Sergeant who served his country for five years. Having fulfilled his lifelong dream of being a Marine, Rhodes decided it was time to pursue his other passion: football. A few months after retiring from Active Duty, Rhodes was accepted into Middle Tennessee State and contacted the school’s athletic department to check on any openings on the football team. The head coach, Rick Stockstill, was thrilled to welcome this 6’3, 240 pound, high school football star turned veteran onto the team. However, because of an NCAA technicality, Steven Rhodes’ football dream has been put on temporary, if not permanent, hold.
Soon after joining Middle Tennessee, the NCAA caught wind of Rhodes’ story and began investigating his prior football experience. In one of the most frustratingly idiotic displays of power overreach, the NCAA is banning Steven Rhodes from playing college football because he played in an intramural military league, one where he received no money, compensation, or notoriety.
Rhodes himself refers to the games as having been “extremely disorganized,” saying, “It was like intramurals for us. There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old. The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games.” These disorganized games played by servicemen, however, violate an NCAA bylaw, because there were referees and the score was kept.
Unfortunately, rather than realize that Rhodes does not have any sort of professional football experience and is clearly the victim of bureaucratic red tape, the NCAA is standing firm in their decision. Middle Tennessee is currently putting together an appeal, but it is unlikely that Rhodes will be able to play in the season opener on August 29th, if it all.
Look, I understand that the NCAA did not put together these rules in an attempt to prevent service members from ever playing college football, but that is precisely what it is doing. The NCAA needs to get its shit together fast, because this ruling is simply unacceptable. I’m admittedly a little hypersensitive about things like this, but aren’t we supposed to be the country that welcomes back our soldiers with banners, parties, and Welcome Home Parades? As someone who grew up in the military, I can’t help but become outraged when I hear stories about soldiers and veterans being ostracized. They’ve been fighting for us. Since when did we stop fighting for them?
[via Yahoo! Sports]
Image via USA Today