Friday, August 7, 2009

A Taste Of Reality

So the Los Angeles Times reports the budget crunch is forcing some serious belt-tightening in the world of college athletics. Schools are re-examining everything in hopes of dealing with leaner times.

For example, San Jose State's football team is trading 2010 games against Stanford and Arizona State for roadtrips to Wisconsin and Alabama. The Patsies, er, Spartans will reportedly net about $1.9 million in added revenue for allowing themselves to be kicked around by the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten schools.

Can't blame an athletic director for doing what it takes to keep the lights on. Doesn't make it any more fun to be an SJSU football player, though.

And speaking of football players suffering, the same story bears word that Cal will cancel its air-travel plans for its October game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Instead, they'll load up the buses and travel down scenic I-5.

I'm sure there will be some grumbling as those pampered Division 1 athletes suffer through the long ride (and imagine the debates over which fast-food place to hit in Buttonwillow!). But before they do too much complaining, I'd ask them to chat with people like my wife and my daughter about college sports travel.

My wife would be happy to spin tales about traveling by bus to Chico State when she played basketball at San Francisco State. Not one of those comfy buses with the reclining seats and the reading lights. No, the Gators rode "the cheese": a yellow, hard-seat beauty with no heater.

My daughter could describe crazy trips around the New York metro area with the Caldwell College soccer team, including the time the coach hit the speed bump so hard that the star midfielder in the back seat of the van smacked her head on the roof and saw stars.

Those small-college programs have been living on a budget for years.

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