Hunting suffering from football woes

By JEFF NORTH,

I should have known something was up when golf carts lined the boulevard of Lake Caroline. It was a beautiful day and if this sport was my avocation, I suppose I would have been right there with them. Greens, though brown now from several frosts, were slick as a mole’s behind. I’m sure they’re super fast as tight as they are. I never gave the crowded course a second thought until I pulled into our delta camp compound.

I just thought the golf course was crowded. Pickups and utility vehicles blocked the entrance all the way past our giant sweet gum tree that literally rains gumballs all winter long. Stands had all been picked over and only the most difficult to get to or the least productive were open. This had never been the case in the past. Most of these fellow hunting friends are diehard football fans and they were all at camp. I was perplexed. The thought of the congested golf course came back to me. Was there a pattern here? I had to ask why no one was at the game of the year between the two institutions of higher “learning” in the northern part of the state.

My answer came quickly.

Pitiful seasons were part of why many had lost interest in this heated rivalry. Mind you though, only in part. Frustrations with this spectacle called football began in earnest for both sides long before the first kickoff this season. Infractions from test and tutor cheating began with one school resulting in a number of players being suspended from play for a number of games. The other school has been suffering for years due to an insurmountable number of infractions resulting in what seems like decades of probationary penalties. Both “schools” have lost scholarships that will only lead to more dismal seasons.

One of my buddies made the analogy of how little the game means to him now by stating, “it’s like watching two mules fight over a turnip, who cares who wins?” I cracked up. I suppose the coup de grace came later that night, placing the final nail in the coffin regarding interest in this game, when a player from the northern most school imitated the canine mascot of the other school urinating in the end zone after scoring what could have been, their winning score. I’m sure you all know what happened, so I won’t bore you with the gory details that not only you, but the rest of our nation, has witnessed all week.

Years ago, I took a statistics course in grad school under Dr. Fay Hagan. I will never forget this class, Statistical Methods 8114. I still get hives when I reflect back on this daunting class. I have always remembered her opening remarks the first day of class, and I quote, “if you are caught cheating in my class, you will not get a zero, but an “F” in this class immediately. Then I will do everything in my power, even going to the president of this university, to have you removed from this campus permanently.” Do you think this got our attention? Wow, this lady meant business.

Now let’s re-visit this cheating scandal that occurred at one of the schools. Dr. Hagan surely isn’t around for a little slap on the wrist, and a look-the-other-way, and all is back to normal. This is tragic and what message does this send to the students that are doing it right? These “student athletes” who are being “paid” through scholarships should be doing it better and cleaner than everyone else. In other words, they should be setting an example for others to realize that if you are gifted with a talent, you can be rewarded. If they did, maybe this would help instill a work ethic within other students to strive for betterment of themselves and our institutions of academia as well. Sadly, I don’t see this.

Even more profound is the message these individuals are sending to their leaders, that being coaches and other member of the university’s staff. They have a total lack of respect for their coaches, professors, mentors, and fellow students, and the university system. They are running wild with the coaches and other administrators standing with their mouth’s agape catching flies. In my opinion, they are scared to say anything for the loss of some player could result in the loss of some sporting event which trickles down into the loss of revenue. Lawzee, we sure can’t lose the money, can we? Even more alarming is I don’t see anything changing. I will gladly eat my words, if by some miracle, higher ups address and correct this continuation of debauchery.

I travel to many states in my business. I meet with colleagues across the country and we discuss and compare entomology programs from numerous universities. Though we are regarded as a top university in the nation when it comes to insects and pest management, we are the laughing stock of the country regarding the rivalry between our so called “premier” universities. The antics and lack of discipline is appalling. More than this though, it is downright embarrassing.

You may be wondering, when did this outdoor column become a sports commentary and what does this have to do with our outdoor world? It’s very simple. The lines are no longer at the entrance to our football fields anymore. They are on the C-Road, the willow hole, the east-side, and the camp field. It looks like a cow-path to some of my favorite stands due to the lack of interest and the frustrations from the gridiron.

The buck I have been watching has been run out of the country and the woods smell of greasy camo and snickers bars. I never thought the woods would be disrupted to the point of no return because of the demise of college football, but they have. I surely hope they regain control and the seats are filled once again for hunting is suffering as well from this spectacle. I suppose time will tell. Until next time, enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.

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