Jordan Spriggs is an idiot. But today I'm feeling a bit of sympathy for idiots. Because the constant gnashing of teeth about athletes and their bonehead moves is starting to give me a headache. Yes, they screw up. But they're not the problem. We are. For caring so much.
Here's the deal. Yesterday the freshman defensive back for the Auburn Tigers threw up a shout-out for help with his homework on Twitter, with an offer to pay the respondent. Um, oops? You don't have to be a genius to know that's a big fat no-no in any college in America.
The Tweet, along with Spriggs' entire account, has been deleted. But it lives on in Retweets like this one from former Auburn player Antoine Carter:
RT @jspriggsdakid: man who is good at writing papers?????????????? i pay...<~ u gotta be the dumbest person in the world lol
Exactly Antoine! Dumb! Even if it was a joke (here's hoping), it was ill-timed in light of Auburn's scandal-ridden season.
But line it up beside the seriously stupid things college athletes have done over the years, and it's a flash in the pan. Spriggs didn't have sex with underage girls like former Virginia Tech football player Marcus Vick. He isn't facing charges for murdering his girlfriend like UVA lacrosse player George Huguely. Heck, compare him to members of the pros, and he's a pussycat. We've got football hall of famer Lawrence Taylor allegedly raping a teenager, and Brett Favre sexually harassing women.
The fact is, college athletes have been screwing up for years now for one reason. They're human. And humans screw up. Expecting them to meet a higher standard than the rest of humanity is unfair and unreasonable.
What makes athletes like Spriggs of interest to us, and to our kids, is the game they play, not what they do off the field (or court or diamond). It's that one thing we want our kids to aspire to, or at least to respect. But as Americans, we've made it our business to know what they're doing on their time off, to brush up on the minutiae of athletes' lives, lives that really have no bearing on what it is we care about.
We don't own our athletes. We can't control what they do when they're not on the clock. As long as they're giving us their all on the field, where we're paying to see them, it's just like being a teacher or a garbage man.
Yes, Jordan Spriggs showed the world he's a bit of an idiot. But when he puts that Tigers uniform on, he isn't supposed to show us how good he is at schoolwork; he's supposed to show us how good he is at football. And football season's over. So why do we care what he's doing today?
Image via Jayel Aheram/Flickr