I grew up revering athletes. As a kid in the 1990s, there were so many role models for a 5-year-old who wanted to be a professional football or basketball player. Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, or John Elway — we had some of the greatest sports figures ever. They were idols and we believed they lived life the way it was supposed to be lived.

They were class acts, men and women whom parents supported and trusted. This aura of personal conduct and presumed classiness superseded any dark characteristics an athlete may have.

It was not just professional athletes; it was the college and high school players. As a University of Michigan fan growing up, Charles Woodson was a god. Any kid who followed Iowa State wanted to be like the Davis brothers. However, as I have grown up and been exposed to the world of talented athletes, that facade has been washed away.

I have been primarily disappointed in the reputation presented by our very own Cyclone athletes. Are there diamonds in the rough? Sure. But are there bad eggs? Of course. According to data from arrestnation.com, Iowa State was second among colleges with 12 citations, charges or arrests levied in 2011. This number was only one behind the University of Florida and four ahead of the University of Oklahoma. Arrestnation.com describes its website as "... a place where the arrests/citations of all people in sports are recorded."

However, it is not the lesser-revenue sports making headlines; it is the high-profile athletes. How often do we hear about swimmers or cross-country runners being problematic? Totaling all sports, college football topped the notorious list nationally, as well as locally.

Seven of the Cyclone arrests came via football players, but men's basketball and wrestling also had team members represented. Some offenses were simple misdemeanors that are commonplace among college kids, but when assault and frequent OWIs occur, it tarnishes the reputation of the university as whole. With the recent dismissal of six football players, it further adds to the black eye on the team and the university.

In high school sports, we were often required to dress up on game days. Boys or girls, freshmen to seniors, all athletes were expected to be respectful and responsible, and that was reflected all the way down to our wardrobes. However,, when the NBA implemented its dress code a few years ago, I was perplexed. I did not understand why the wardrobes of grown men needed to be policed. I assumed they are wealthy, responsible adults who should be allowed to wear whatever they want.

After a few years of adapting to the dress code, it now makes sense. The NBA wanted to portray a more positive image. It was a way to implement more class and give the players a more dignified look. When the players stopped wearing baggy sweats and T-shirts, they actually looked like professionals.

Other than the home football games, I'm not sure how many of our esteemed athletes I've seen dressed in something more formal than sweatpants. While we as the student body shell out cash for overpriced bookstore clothing, the athletes are adorned with closets full of ISU gear. It is a hefty amount of free gear that gives these should-be reputable role models a slovenly appearance. Some people may just view them as outfits, but they also typify the sense of entitlement to perks that athletes feel they are due.

This is not meant to chastise or belittle any single person or program, but rather to serve as a wake-up call for our college athletes. No other students in the Cyclone community receive the same publicity or adulation.

Athletes, you are put on a pedestal and are granted forgiveness that others would be denied. Most students would love to have the same praise and reverence. Students, boosters and ISU alumni fund the opportunities that come your way.

In return, we just ask for more class, more discipline and better representation, not just on the field, but in every outlet where you represent the Cyclones.

Opinion Policies

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Daily or organizations with which the author(s) are associated. 

Feedback policy: The Daily encourages discussion but does not guarantee its publication. We reserve the right to edit or reject any letter or online feedback. The goal of the opinion section is to spark civil public discourse by publishing opinions based on facts that articulate an argument. The merit of a piece's ability to further public discourse, among other factors, will be considered when determining if a piece is publication worthy. 

Letter to the Editor Submission Link

(13) comments

Ashley Garrin

I am very upset that this type of an opinion article is posted in our school newspaper. I completely agree with the fact that student athletes should represent their institution in a positive manner, but did we forget about the numerous cases against coaches and other athletic staff? Their actions are more significant to the university than a student athlete's. And guess what? They are typically White males.

Further more, you addressed how athletes dress on campus. Is it just me, or do all students wear sweatpants or lounge type clothing? That is a college norm. If you have a problem with the cost of ISU gear at the bookstore, then maybe you need to take it up with them. Do you all not realize that football players here at Iowa State spend 40+ hours per week in practice, meetings, etc. Some are on scholarship, but they do not have time to get jobs. Football is their job. Besides academic scholarships they receive piddly cash for their expenses. Barely enough to cover rent, let alone additional expenses. I am in no way condoning theft; however look at the institution and how that leads people to commit crimes.

In the article you say you are not chastising or belittling "any single person or program", however you are talking about African American ISU football players. That is more than evident. It is sad that in 2012 the only positive attributes of African American males are their athletic abilities, and even the athletes are considered as thieves, rapists, and any other type of criminal that can be dreamt up.

Luke Schut

Miss Garrin, the writer is not singling out African-Americans in ANY way. He doesn't even mention race or skin color in the piece. If you can point out where this is racism is "more than evident," please do; otherwise, please refrain from accusing others of racism without cause.

Staff
Darrin Cline

I would like to apologize if my point was not made completely clear.

I did not mean to target any race or sound racially insensitive.

The main topic I wanted to address was that our student athletes are held in high esteem; they are granted opportunities and adulation that many students, myself included, would love to have. They are also looked up to by young kids and are viewed as role models.

I have nothing against sweatpants, I was trying to use the clothing reference as a simple yet relatable analogy about some of the perks that student athletes receive.

I did not mean that all student-athletes or every member of a certain team will cause problems. Whether they are gymnasts, football players, wrestlers or runners, a majority of athletes do positive work. From breast cancer awareness to community involvement with SAAC events, student-athletes are giving back.

My goal was to simply address a topic that I felt should be discussed, since these men and women are such public and revered figures.

Charlie Paul

As in most any observations made on a population, you have generalized the behavior of an extremely small subset of the student-athlete population. There are over 475 student-athletes at Iowa State, so those 12 citations still leave 97.5% of our athlete's arrest-free (assuming those 12 arrests were all separate people). If someone got 97.5% on a test, or we won 97.5% of our games, or graduated 97.5% of our students, that would seem like a major victory to me.

As an Iowa State athlete myself, I completely agree that athletes should be held to a higher standard than the general student body due to the increase in media attention. I try to be a positive ambassador for ISU, and hope all other athletes strive towards the same goal. Bad press on athletes is bad press for the university, which none of us want. However, I take offense when you state that athletes are "granted forgiveness others would be denied." If a non-athlete is issued a DUI, MIP, or any other all-to-common offense on a college campus, more often than not there will not be a specific article in the Daily regarding the offense. It could be my bias, but I believe that athletes are granted much less forgiveness than the majority of the student body. A legal offense can sometimes have much greater consequences for an athlete than non-athlete.

I do not believe that wearing team-issued gear is as much of a sin as you make it out to be. I think that some take their workout look too far, but let's not assume that athlete's are the only people walking around campus in that type of attire. There are much worse things in the world than showing support for your school or program; if you believe athletes should receive less clothing, the complaint should be directed towards our coaches and administration, not the athletes.

Athletes should represent themselves in a professional manner every day and night. Instead of singling out a lowly 2.5%, consider our Big 12-leading graduation rate, or athlete GPA that beats the student body almost every year. While there is a tiny group that chooses to make bad decisions, I would like you to consider the positive side of the coin as well.

Nikki Prothro

As someone who attended Iowa State University even before the "Davis brothers," whom the writer extolls as worthy of praise and adulation, I am appalled by this article. I was very good friends with student athletes involved in men's basketball, football and track and field. They were absolutely no different than the student athletes today no matter how much the writer wants you to believe otherwise. What *has* changed is the media and society's access to every single aspect of the lives of student athletes via the internet and social media. Do you honestly believe that there weren't thefts, owi's, and other transgressions back then? That is just ridiculous. Of course there were. The only difference between then and now; there weren't bottom feeding websites that took it upon themselves to keep a running tally of the arrests of athletes. Or wanna-be journalists who scoured the internet looking for them to help substantiate their ridiculous opinions. Where is the tally sheet of arrests for frat boys and journalism students and ag students? Oh yeah, thats right. There aren't any. Because while these student athletes are placed onto pedestals, they are also exposing themselves to the criticism and critique of anyone who feels its their right to do so as well as having any and all aspects of their lives on display for people who don't necessarily have their best interests at heart. This brings me to another point that I take issue with.

I have the first hand experience of a college basketball player calling my room after an exceptionally tough loss where he missed two free throws with less than a second remaining in the game. He wanted to know if he and his girlfriend could come stay in my room because people were banging on his door, screaming obscenities, and calling to harrass him because he missed the free throws. They slept, curled up on my two seat couch, to avoid the harrassment. My guess is they didn't think that was part of the package deal when they signed on at Iowa State. College atheletes spend hours in class, at study table, in practice, honoring various media and team obligations, volunteering with local organizations and at games. If they happen to get "closets full" of ISU gear for that, I have one thing to say...good for them!

And they are college students for crying out loud. What would you prefer they wear to class? Three piece suits? Shirt and tie? Expensive name brand clothing? Which would 'allow you' to then take it upon yourself to question their finances and how they could possibly afford such nice things. Give me a break. I've seen people come to class in pajama pants, in clothes that they definitely wore to a club or party the night before, and in clothes that stunk so bad it was clear they hadn't done laundry in weeks. So if a student athlete wants to wear the Iowa State gear that he or she has more than earned...to that I say, "Wear it proudly!"

I don't personally know any of the student athletes at Iowa State right now. I do, however, interact with some of them on Twitter. They have never been anything but kind, generous with their time, honest, funny, and exceptional ambassadors for Iowa State University. I sent a simple tweet to tell Jacques Washington that he was our 5 year old little boy's favorite player. He took the time to respond to Kai personally and it absolutely made our son's day! Others have done the same. Unlike the writer, I have found many student athletes from Iowa State University that I would be proud for my son to have as a hero and/or role model. But I guess that's the difference between the writer and myself...I choose to focus on the good in people. Not the bad.

And to Mr. Cline I say simply: don't make sweeping generalizations about all athletes based on the actions of a few. We don't do that to any other group on campus, why is it ok to do it to athletes? Get off of your high horse and get your head out of the clouds. The altitude has clearly made you delusional. I mean honestly, it wouldn't be fair of me to call ALL Iowa State Daily writers a bunch of wanna-be hacks based solely on "your" article now would it?

Allen Bell

Mr. Cline in your "opinion" piece, you say "Most students would love to have the same praise and reverence," as student athletes. My opinion is, you want that praise, reverence, the spotlight, the publicity and the adulation of a student athlete but you don't want to work for it. If there's such an advantage to being a student athlete and you really want some free sweat pants you should walk on to a team and earn them.

When I was 5 years old, as a kid growing up in the 90's, I had many role models and athletes I looked up too, I wanted to be Barry Sanders, he was perfect in my eyes. I also wanted to be Spiderman, Superman, and Batman cause they were perfect too. As I got older and more mature that facade washed away. I realized that those super heros were all fantasy and that Barry Sanders was just another man like me and if I wanted to someday I could be better than him. That my friend is the same realization you had, it wasn't because you were more "exposed to the world of talented athletes." You just finally realized that Michael Jordan, John Elway and Jerry Rice are people just like you and they all make mistakes.

The issue that you should have given your opinion on is why do people in our community put athletes on a pedestal. Why in our society is a "great catch" more note worthy than a great "GPA?" Why does it matter to you that a student athlete is wearing sweats to class but you don't care what a business student is wearing to class?

@abthehero

Tyler Rich

Nothing is stopping you from having the "opportunities and adulation" you would love to have except yourself. Focus more on being the best Darrin Cline you can be, rather than worrying about what you would like others to be.

Ryan Haaland

I would like to rename this article "Student Writers Lack Perspective".

What exactly is your thesis? I have this urge to disagree with your article, but it's so poorly written that I can but guess as to what it is I would even be disagreeing with.

Is your thesis that today's athletes are somehow different than they used to be; less respectable now than they once were? As a Cyclone fan you've surely heard of Sam Mack and Kenny Pratt. Or perhaps you've heard of other athletes such as Ty Cobb, Ray Carruth or O.J. Simpson?

Is your thesis that you're just now beginning to grow out of your naive childish belief that athletes are good people simply by virtue of the fact that they're talented at their craft? If so, I say welcome to the real world.

This "article" could have just as easily been written at any time in sporting history. There is seemingly nothing new nor original in your list of over-generalizations regarding student athletes.

Ashley Garrin

Luke, I would like to note that in the article the ISU football team is named. It doesn't take much investigation to recognize that our football team is comprised of primarily African American men. I was directly responding to another comment before mine that has since been deleted, most likely because of it's ignorant sentiments. If anything is gained from this conversation I hope it can be recognized that whenever you judge a group of people, it is based on prejudice- a predetermined notion. Racism or any other form of oppression is not always overt. I do not need to see a word to recognize the underlying ideas.
Mrs. Garrin.

Derrick Catlett

Morgan you are completely right on in what you are saying. To Darrin Cline I would like to know if you know or have met any of the athletes who attend Iowa State. My guess is no or maybe a small handful if any because if you had met any of them you would know that they are an extraordinary group of people. There are a few bad apples but that will happen anywhere. How many people have the same problems and aren't athletes? The only reason you know about any of their transgressions is because if anything ever happens to an athlete it is front page news. If an athlete gets a public intox with three other people who are not athletes whos name and picture do you think is going to be in the paper the next day? The athlete's thats who. And what are the consequences for those other people who get in trouble? They have a fine to pay and maybe their parents to answer to but an athlete has extra punishment on top of that by their coaches. Normal students aren't held to any standard like that.

As many other people have mentioned it is the fans and media who put these athletes on a pedestal and who hold them in such high regard. Is it their fault that they are athletically gifted? No it is the media's fault for following every move they make and putting their entire life on display for everyone else to see.

Also as a former student-athlete at ISU and a person who still works with these athletes I would ask you if you have ever worked as hard as any of these athletes a day in your life. Let me give you a typical day in the life of an athlete. Your day starts at 6am with an hour and a half lifting or running workout then you have 8am class and maybe you can squeeze in a little treatment if needed right before while still making it to breakfast checkin on time. You have class until the afternoon when you have to go to study table and tutoring. Somewhere in there you have to find time to eat your other meals as well. After study table you might get a little time to relax but you still have to do homework and go to bed early because you have more of the same the next day. And because your schedule is so rigorous you get tired and worn down easily, it is hard to concentrate in class and your body aches when you wake up and throughout the day. Now if after all of that you feel the need to dress up to go to class then more power to you but I can tell you I wore sweats to class every day because they were comfortable and I'm not trying to impress anyone.

You come back to say that its not the sweats that you have a problem with but its the amount of gear student-athletes get. Do you want to know what a majority of the gear they get is for? It is to workout in. I don't know if you have ever been up at 6am to workout in the cold but I can bet you wont be wearing shorts and a T-shirt to do it. They bust their butts year round so I think the WORKOUT gear they compile should be able to be work around campus.

To Ashley Garrin you are one to talk about ignorance. You say that it doesn't take much investigation to recognize that our football team is comprised of primarily "African-American" men. Obviously you didn't do a shred of research because if you did you would have seen that 40 of our 106 football players on roster are any kind of minority with 38 of them being black. While Darrin Cline's article was a serious generalization of a population based on personal opinion there was not a single piece of evidence of racism in it. So stop being so ignorant and narrow minded and assuming that everything is a racial issue when it clearly isn't.

Lynnae Grandin

How dare you judge someone based upon their clothing choice. Student athletes are the hardest working, most dedicated students I know...on and off the field, court, track, etc. Do you even realize how early those students that you are criticizing are up and in the gym, or how late they are up studying for their classes? While at ISU I have known several student athletes, and know how hard they work on everything they do. If they choose to wear something that they find comfortable to class, then they have the right to do that. Besides, have you ever taken notice of how many NON-student athletes wear sweats to class (and they haven't just come from the gym). Forgive me if I think it is petty of you to judge very dedicated student athletes upon what they wear to class between workouts.

As to your comments about student athlete arrests/citations: they are human, and as such are entitled to the acknowledgement that they may have imperfections too. 12 arrests/citations in a year are nothing compared to the hundred plus non-student athletes that are arrested/cited every semester. You don't hear about every sport because the media dictates what is important to the viewers, but I know for a fact that they too are guilty of infractions as well. And you can be assured that all your childhood idols had their issues too, you were just either blind to them or did not hear about them at that age. If you don't want their imperfections to be seen, and want them to be the perfect idols that you thought your childhood idols where...DON'T PUBLICLY CRITICIZE THEM.

janelle Moore

This article needs to be retracted and an apology needs to be made to the student athletes of Iowa State. I thought that student journalists would be taught to do their research and not generalize a group of people, but apparently I am mistaken.

First off, Cline states "While we as the student body shell out cash for overpriced bookstore clothing, the athletes are adorned with closets full of ISU gear." This free gear that he is talking about is mostly given to the teams by Nike. This is a great form of advertisement by Nike because they know that COLLEGE STUDENTS, not just student athletes, like to dress comfortably. Also, this gear is equatable to employee benefits. Student athletes are employees of the university. Just like any job, there are perks. For student athletes, their pay is their tuition and room/board.

Secondly, Cline mentions the six football players that were dismissed from the team further adding to the "black eye" of the student athletic program here at Iowa State. I know for a FACT that one of the football players was not "dismissed" but is transferring to a D2 school so he will get more playing time. Of the six players that were supposedly "dismissed", I believe that only three or four of them were actually let go from the team and weren't transferring or leaving on their own accord.

I could go on and on about how this article is ridiculous, but I have some homework to do. Next time Cline, think before you put your jealous thoughts on paper.

Danielle Harris

To Generalize all of us is a huge error on your part as a journalist. 12 offenses (from fewer than 12 people might I add) is a false representation of the 500 or more of us who carry our position as student athletes honorably to the best of our ability. However, even the best of us is a human being. Hold whatever athlete to a romanticized image as much as you want, but we're capable of the same mistakes as every other person. It's your fault if you had a false image of us. We pay a much heavier price for the mistakes we make as well. Go ahead, get arrested for drinking and driving, the university doesn't give two flips for what you do. As for us, we are under the watchful eye of journalists like you who would love nothing more than to eat us alive in the media and an administration who has the right to take anything away from us in a heart beat. You get to keep your pretty degree and opportunity to go to school here. We walk a thin line when we choose to jeopardize our opportunity to be here by making legal erros. We carry the entire student -athlete reputation on our backs, every single one of us.

As clothing goes, I'm up in the morning at 5:30 Monday, Wednesday and Friday and at 7:30 on Saturdays for practice, only to get back in the water again every single afternoon. I spend over 20 hours a week practicing or doing something that has to do with swimming for this school and I spend every hour of my life in some sort of muscle or body pain because of it. I have also suffered multiple injuries in my three years as an athlete here. It comes with the territory. So comfort is an incredibly important part of my recovery times out of practice. When you dedicate that time and energy, you can decide whether or not it's ok to wear sweats to class. I choose not to actually, I try to dress the best that I can everyday just to keep from falling asleep, but I completely respect the athletes that choose to.

It's a huge disappointment that you would write about or offenses instead of our multiple achievements. yes, 12 offenses is a lot, but the good that we do for our school and our community far outweighs the bad. For instance, did you know that the average ISU student athlete GPA by FAR exceeds that of the average ISU student here on campus? Did you know that our university is one of the top ranking in student-athlete graduation and job placement rates? Did you know every sports team puts in hundreds of hours of community service every semester? The Daily doesn't ever seem to cover those aspects of our image.

And as for the "Hefty amounts of clothing" we receive... my sport doesn't get to keep any of it. Besides the two practice suits and a dual meet suit, sports bra (if we're lucky to get one, sometimes we don't) and winter hat to keep our hair from freezing in sub-zero Iowa temperatures, we don't get to keep a thing. Oh sorry, I did forget to mention the issued shoes we run mile after mile and climb step after step in until our feet bleed. As that goes, I'm very grateful to get those. More than you'll ever know.

I sacrificed almost an entire childhood, practiced twice a day for more than 10 years to EARN the privilege, to wear my school's colors. I put blood, sweat and tears for 3 to 4 hours a day in two-a-days for those 10 years into my dream of performing at a division one school. I am blessed beyond words to have earned the PRIVILEGE (not the right) to represent Iowa State in Cardinal and Gold.

As for your tuition dollars "paying for my privileges" they don't... as far as I know, my scholarship is paid for by generous grant donations given to my sport out of LOVE for ISU athletics. I write those people a letter of thanks every year.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.