Big Red is Cornell, which is about to play the scholars of Kentucky in the sweet 16 tonight. It’s good to see the Ivy league with its prohibition on athletic scholarships get this far. Cornell certainly demolished the #4 and #5 seeds in their division. Win or lose the Cornellians will have a life after graduation. Not true of some of the ex college athletes I saw in practice. The worst were several blacks recruited to play various sports for Eastern Montana College in the 70s and 80s. After they were used up and spit out by the system, several of them stayed in Montana. I saw them as a neurologist for their injuries sustained at work. Doing what? Working as a section man (translation: laborer) for the Burlington Northern Railroad.
I also saw a few football players for Montana State University who were injured playing ball. I was surprised that several smiled when I told them they couldn’t play footfall that year (or any more). This meant that they could get an education, without the incessant practice that football required. Since they were hurt on the job so to speak, this meant that their athletic scholarship couldn’t be taken away. So athletic scholarships aren’t all bad, as some of them were poor boys who would have had trouble financing their way through college.
Contrast this with the all-Ivy fullback who was a Denton Cooley trained cardiac surgeon where I practiced, or the lineman in my class who is chief of gastroenterology at a medical school, or another all-Ivy fullback, classmate, phi beta kappa and Rhodes scholar (who unfortunately died in his 20s while at Harvard Law of a malignant bone tumor).
I do have a connection with Cornell as our son went there. I subsequently had the pleasure of bitching to the Provost (an alum of my school) that the Cornell package in ’86 was 15 K but 20 K by graduation in ’90. It sounds quaint now but, even so, that’s a 33% increase in 4 years. His reply: find a better way to spend that sort of money on an 18 year old. Pretty fast on his feet (or he’d heard this sort of thing many times). You can see why later on he became president of the University of Chicago. He also mentioned that as Provost, he was responsible for running a 1 billion dollar a year organization (again sounds quaint doesn’t it), but was unable to give anyone a direct order.
While the academics in the Ivy league were good back then, the caliber of the marching bands, particularly that of my alma mater was very low. An example: After I finished playing high school basketball (about this time of year), I taught myself to play the clarinet as I’d heard that band members got free football tickets on the 50 yardline including one for our dates. So about 6 months later I tried out for the band and made second clarinet. The band had third clarinets.
A year later the future provost and college president joined the band playing trumpet.
Go Big Red.
Back to Science tomorrow.