Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Props to McElroy and Villanova

In an age where the "student athlete" is eroding into privileged employee, stories like Greg McElroy or the recent actions of Villanova remind us that some individuals and institutions are truly concerned with holistic education; academic, interpersonal, and athletic.

Greg McElroy defined living life in balance because while at Alabama, he completed his undergraduate education in three years with a GPA of 3.86 and is currently working on a masters degree, was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, quarterbacked the Crimson Tide to the 2009 National Championship, and qualified for the final round of the Rhodes Scholarship.

Villanova recently suspended a star freshman from its basketball team without any prompting from the NCAA because, "Pinkston is receiving the same treatment any Villanova student would under similar circumstances." Unlike Auburn, Villanova is ignoring that Pinkston was the second highest rated recruit out of the state of New York and reminding us all that no one should be above the law, no matter how talented they may be. Villanova won't be as talented this year, but it's better to hurt a little now so that we can become better athletes and better people in the long run. Hats off to the 'Cats and Mr. McElroy.

A link to the Villanova article if you're interested in reading more: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5890891

Monday, December 6, 2010

Five Month Anniversary

I have been in Indonesia for over five months now and in preparation to return to the States for the holidays I've been doing a lot of reflecting about my time abroad this year. First of all, I cannot say enough great things about the people I've met! Indonesians on the whole are extremely hospitable (and forgiving of my horrendous Bhasa), personable (and eager to strike up conversation), and exhibit an incredible joie de vivre! Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoy my job: the kids are incredible and a lot of fun, my co-workers are fascinating people, and determining ways to make higher level math (at least from a 6th grade perspective) relevant to teenagers lives is quite intellectually stimulating. (and below is an example of how we used frame by frame animation to provide a more tangible context for matrix manipulation)

Furthermore, these past five months have been incredible in how much I've learned about myself. I love the quote "You've got to go away to come back" and previously used it in reference to sports, but having time away from it all has provided greater overall clarity regarding who I am and where I want to go in life.

On top of all of that, I'm spoiled with all of the different sights I've been able to see since being over here; from places throughout Indonesia (the the mountains near Bogor and the rice patties of Bali) to Angkor Wat and the country-side of Vietnam and Cambodia. While traveling and instead of watching TV I've been able to get through a number of great books. The top shelf represents those I've read while the bottom contains those still on the reading list.

Overall, I am extremely grateful for these past few months and am looking forward to what I will continue to learn!

This picture is of Matt, Ab, and me at the Soiree last Friday.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Internet Trouble

For some odd reason, it seems like whenever it rains, the internet goes out at the homestay. This weekend the internet didn't come back on after the rain ceased and so my video chat with Jillian was relocated to school. It was a little less than ideal because the internet connection isn't as fast, but it's great that the school provided me with an alternative! Also, not having internet connection allowed me to be more productive in working on the mammoth amount of work that goes into completing report cards. I was talking with Matt, my co-worker from Canada (not Mr. Williams, the Canadian enthusiast :) lol), and we both said that the comments section is great, but we can only do 5 - 10 at a time to make sure they don't turn into the same comment for each kid :). I'm done with one class and hope to have 2 more done tomorrow! I hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Defense of Shannon

College football is at a tipping point. Television contract, corporate sponsorship, enormous BCS pay-outs and "professional" high school athletes are rapidly eroding the student athlete, replacing it with profit-generating employee. While none of these individual aspects are new to the sport, their effects are having an increasingly detrimental affect.

On by-product of the current culture of college football is the hasty firing of good coaches, exemplified by "the U" firing Randy Shannon. When he took over the program at Miami, disarray would be a courteous description; academic issues, disciplinary problems, and stagnation on the field. In four years, Shannon has turned Miami into an exemplar for student achievement, a feat wish is too often under-looked in college athletics where, as the NCAA advertises, "over 90% of us are going pro in something other than sports." It should also be added that those lucky few who are drafted and play in the NFL, they won't be there long (average tenure is four years) and thus all student athletes need their degree throughout the rest of their adult lives. Furthermore, the news has been notably devoid of stories of athletes doing things they shouldn't be, despite all the distractions that come with attending college in Miami. Finally, a great culture has been established within a team that has gone to three straight bowl games.

Unfortunately, Shannon didn't win enough for Miami standards. Miami has been lulled into a false sense of believing they have a great football program, when in reality a few outstanding coaches created a history of winning without necessary support structures (outside of the pipeline of talent that comes out of South Florida). "The U" lacks offices, meeting rooms, weight rooms, or practice facilities that would put them on par with the rest of the ACC, needless to say a premier national program. Additionally, they play their home games off campus in a NFL stadium, not exactly the best environment to build an atmosphere for a strong "home field" advantage.

In the discussion on Shannon, Lou Holtz brought up a very interesting point, you make the most mistakes in your first head coaching gig. He referred to his esteemed days with the Tribe as a time when he learned a lot about being a better CEO of his program and was able to use those lessons that the higher level, more exposed programs. We've seen the results with Gene Chizik at Auburn compared with Iowa State and if I were the AD of any university looking for a new coach, I would be thrilled with the successes and character of Randy Shannon and vault him to the top of my prospect list.