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Dropping recruits off at college — then vs. now

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Like Mitch Albom’s thing, but maybe better

University Of Kentucky Scenics Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If you missed it yesterday, the World of Online was abuzz over an utterly ridiculous “get off my lawn” column from Mitch Albom, where he compared dropping kids off at college back in his day to doing so now.

It included such hits as:

OLD: “We drove our son to college today. What a proud moment. He was a little embarrassed by Mom and Dad coming up to his room, but we promised not to make any ‘square’ jokes. We unpacked his trunk and Mom helped organize his drawers. We met his roommate, who seemed nice. His name is Scott.”

NEW: “We drove our young prince to college today. What a proud moment. He was embarrassed by having his mom and step-dad and dad and former step-mom and dad’s current girlfriend all coming up to his room, so we had to watch from a distance. We saw him hook up his cable TV and his Xbox, then assemble his IKEA furniture. We also met his roommate, who seemed nice. Her name is X. And we are not supposed to use the word ‘her.’ ”

And:

OLD: “Our son had a brief meeting with his academic adviser, who told him his first two years, as expected, would be mostly required classes including classic literature, philosophy, math, a foreign language and history. But he was excited to learn he could choose an ‘elective’ each semester. Such freedom of study!”

NEW: “Our young liege checked his iPhone to pick his classes. A student protest to eliminate dead poets from the curriculum means he won’t have to study Shakespeare, and since history was found to be an offensive word (“His” and “story,” so sexist!) he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. The fact is, his curriculum is totally up to him — to inspire and challenge his natural talents — but he did say he planned to study a foreign language. I think he said, ‘Fortran.’ ”

It seems our friend Mitch is not fond of this new-fangled technology and treating people how they want to be treated or whatever. He also doesn’t like that kids these days have stepparents (I have a stepmom and a stepdad, they were both there when I moved into college and it was great.).

Anyway, it got me thinking: how does dropping your college basketball recruit off at college today differ from Albom’s days? I gave it my best shot, but I apologize if this isn’t quite the work of art that Mitch created:


OLD: We got the check from Mr. Gilbert and so we dropped our son off at school today. He was a little embarrassed by mom and dad coming up to his room, but he needed help unloading boxes of free UCLA gear from his brand-new car.

NEW: Our son enrolled in summer session today to get a head start on his classes. It was tough saying goodbye, but we couldn’t ignore the help that university boosters gave us helping ends meet over the last couple years. Was that allowed? Technically, no. Are there other recruits out there still getting the Gilbert treatment? Of course. But that’s neither here nor there. We needed help and we got it.


OLD: Our son had a brief meeting with his coach after getting settled. Coach reiterated how excited he was to have him on campus for the next four years and was looking forward to coaching our son and watching him take the program to new heights.

NEW: Our son had a brief meeting with his coach after getting settled. Coach reiterated how excited he was to have him on campus for this year, and hopefully beyond that. If our son is too successful, he might look to transfer to a bigger school, where he might get a little more exposure and improve his career prospects. Coach doesn’t want that, so he’s prepared to continue recruiting our son for as long as he’s on campus.


OLD: While we are confident that our son made a great decision in choosing to attend this university, we also realize he might not ultimately be happy here. He might not get along with the coach, his teammates, or he simply might not be getting what he wanted out of his classes. Tough noogies. This is “my day” and when we make a commitment, we stick to it. No matter how miserable it makes us.

NEW: While we are confident that our son made a great decision in choosing to attend this university, we also realize he is an 18-year-old kid who does not have the reasoning skills or life experiences to always make the right choices. If he does find that he made the wrong decision, that’s okay — who among us was perfect as a teenager? That’s not to excuse every dumb thing that he does, but if it turns out this was the wrong choice, he should have a chance to learn from it and make a better one. Surely he will be able to transfer without being accused of running from adversity.


OLD: We wanted to talk to our son about how he presents himself to the media and how he carries himself whenever he is in public. If he wants to have a career playing basketball professionally, it would behoove him to know how to make a good impression. After all, you never know who might be listening. An ill-timed outburst or a poorly thought-out reply to a reporter’s question might do lasting damage.

NEW: We wanted to talk to our son about how he presents himself both to the press and on social media. In an era where too many fans tweet at recruits, it’s easy to get into arguments and say something you’ll regret. We can’t trust our school’s SID to properly coach him on how to handle situations like this, because he might be a 65-year-old former newspaper writer who gets his news the next morning while skimming the box scores as he sips his coffee at the local diner.


OLD: We’re nervous about how our son will budget his money. Sure, we can help him out with a few bucks here and there, but we know it’s not enough. Because of NCAA rules and the demanding schedule of a Division I athlete, he can’t get a part-time job to help out. It’s very possible that he will have to skip an occasional meal while his university brings in millions off his unpaid labor and promotes his likeness endlessly in exchange for no compensation whatsoever.

NEW: We’re nervous about how our son will budget his money. Sure, we can help him out with a few bucks here and there, but we know it’s not enough. Because of NCAA rules and the demanding schedule of a Division I athlete, he can’t get a part-time job to help out. It’s very possible that he will have to skip an occasional meal while his university brings in millions off his unpaid labor and promotes his likeness endlessly in exchange for no compensation whatsoever.

Some things never change.