March Madness has become a national obsession. Diehard fans are probably researching individual players' previous season records and injuries.
But what do you know about these students' college careers? College athletics are a huge money maker for universities, so scouting top athletes from high schools is a must. To prevent the admission of students strictly for their athletic ability, the NCAA has established academic requirements. These standards have been modified and lowered over the past decade.
The NCAA says these new first-year requirements will bring more minority students entering college athletics.
Though a worthwhile goal, after seven years of tweaking entrance requirements, a mere 3 percent more minority students have joined college via athletics programs.
Instead of real progress, students who would not normally be able to enter college, whether minority or not, are getting onto the court, despite academic deficiencies.
"So what?" you might say, especially if you want your favorite school to win a championship.
Well if the academics standards matter, should they be watered down because of athletes? Most of these students would be overwhelmed by collegiate requirements, but universities usually funnel these athletes into easier majors, taking the path of least resistance.
Putting athletes in less challenging courses also does not guarantee success.
This is one reason even Harvard recently had its reputation tarnished when 125 students (half of which were varsity athletes) were caught cheating on a take-home exam.
Although sports may be exciting, the long-term consequences of diminished standards affect the entire student body. In addition to athletic facilities, universities are building special learning centers to tutor underperforming athletes. Even though college athletics make money for a university, how fair is it to siphon off funds for students that shouldn't have qualified for admission in the first place?
An athletic scholarship might be one of the few ways a young person can afford to go to college, and athletics take up a significant portion of a student's time.
However, college ought to be ensuring that students develop valuable life skills.
Some college athletes believe that they'll make it to the professional leagues, but very few do. Sadly, many of these student-athletes will not have the skills to find a real-world job after graduation.
The system may entertain millions, but it's also leaving many athletes with only fond memories of glory days gone by and no marketable skills.
(The writer is a student at Penn State Altoona.)
Iditarod punishes dogs
Forcing sled dogs to run a thousand miles in frigid weather is very cruel and unusual punishment to "man's best friend."
Who really believes that these dogs enjoy this? How many dogs have been crippled or lost or died from exhaustion due to this stupidity? What do the dogs get out of this besides a pat on the back and something to eat? If the people who put these dogs in this race think it is humane, they need a reality check.
The winner gets a few bucks, a trophy and a new truck. The dogs get another meal. What is the American Society of Prevention of the Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA)?stand on this unbelievable cruelty?
Michael Vick was put in jail for fighting dogs. Pushing sled dogs to their very limit is almost as bad. Every dog needs exercise but nothing as brutal as this.
Dogs are man's best friend. Let's start treating them that way.
Bruce (Pete) Williams
I am wondering who votes for Wrestler of the Year?
In my opinion, the kid that finishes second and has a record of 36-3 should have precedence over the current Altoona Mirror Wrestler of the Year that finished sixth with a record of 31-6.
I think there is some hometown bias in this selection.