Nader’s latest crusade doesn’t add up

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In the bizzaro world of Ralph Nader - the Princeton and Harvard-educated attorney, author, lecturer, activist and four-time candidate for President of the United States, according to his Wikipedia page – the stench of college sports is overwhelming.

There’s a dire to “de-professionalize,” he insists. Especially right now, while we’re amidst what he calls “the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships.”

Start by getting rid of all the preferential athletic scholarships. Set up a need-based financial aid system that athletes can use, like every other student.

That will restore academic integrity. It’ll even end a “win-at-all-cost” mentality for high school, middle school or elementary school kids – whose hoping for a free ride to college in exchange for their ability to generate income for sports programs.

We need to “be able to use the term ‘student-athlete’ without snickering,” Nader says.
“It’s time for our college athletes to be true students on campus, not athletes on athletic stipends with sports – not education – as their top priority and obligation.”

True enough, the system in place now is pretty flawed. The athletes who attract the entertainment dollars aren’t equitably compensated.

But all that Nader’s gameplan lacks is common sense.

Eliminating opportunities for those in need hurts the greater good in the bigger picture. And he misses an essential point: For almost 99 percent of college sports, it is about the amateur athlete, not the budding professional.

NCAA reform, we’d buy into that. Even if the idea leads to someone like Pat Haden, who has managed to make some major philosophical changes in the way USC runs its sports programs now, as a prime candidate to run college athletics’ governing body and bring some missing perspective.

Or is that pushing things too far?

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== How about this Victoria’s Secret a new line of MLB women’s clothing – including a three-pair “hipster” pantie pack that features team logos (including the Dodgers and Angels) on the front and phrases like “Caught Looking” and “Meet Me In The Dugout” on the backsides? Is $25.50 a good package deal?

== How much longer can Ohio State’s basketball team’s run toward an basketball title divert attention from the black-and-Buckeyes athletic department getting Jim Tressel prepared for his permanent golden handshake, with the hopes that Urban Meyer will be waiting to swoop in and save face?

== Butler University, an independent, coeducational, liberal arts and sciences facility with 4,650 students, founded in 1855 in Indianapolis by attorney and abolitionist Ovid Butler, has won eight of its last NCAA hoop tournament games? Hear that UCLA?

== Are we supposed to be paying attention to the Barry Bonds’ trial, or the clinical trial he must have put himself through to lose three hat sizes since we last saw him?

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== Is the portrait of Pedro Martinez that has been unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., going up next to the one of Delino DeShields?

== And now, the top 10 coolest things about being in Fontana this weekend . . . No. 10 . . . Any suggestions?

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