Georgia's Isaiah Crowell is an Unfortunate, but Common Story

By Michael Collins

Fact: Isaiah Crowell is an extremely gifted athlete.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell is an extremely immature young man.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell is an example of someone who is handed the world, and yet still feels entitled.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell is a microcosm of an ongoing dilemma in modern day sports.

Isaiah Crowell was arrested and charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor.  And now he’s been dismissed from the University of Georgia football team.

I’m not sure how we got to this point, or if the educational institutions in this country can change.  But the slippery slope on which they are headed has dire consequences waiting at the bottom for everyone involved.

We take young men and women, some hardly removed from puberty, and we throw them into the gleaning spotlights of attention and avarice.  And when these children who are barely self-aware end up self-destructing, we have the audacity to act surprised, or to lay our own judgement down upon them.

We throw them on a stage…lights!!…action!  We tweet them with love when they choose our school or our team, and we selfishly and predictably lambast them if they turn their backs on the institutions we love, even if it’s the best choice for them.

We offer reward, praise, and even admiration to teenagers before they have even become old enough to vote, or even drive in some cases.

We make them feel as if they have conquered the world before they’ve even had a chance to conquer their own personal demons.

We offer forgiveness and absolution quicker than a priest assigned to a Turkish prison, and offer no accountability for ill-advised actions or transgressions…only more headlines and publicity.

It’s not enough that as a society we have put far too much emphasis on the value of being an entertainer – be it on screen, stage, or stadium – but now we find ourselves assisting in snuffing out the value of our own youth, and the future of our country.

It used to be that the Isaiah Crowells of the sports world were the exception.  Now, gradually but assuredly, we are becoming numb their antics until these narcissistic mega-teens become commonplace.

One gets kicked off the team?  That’s OK, there are five more waiting in line.  We’ll get by just fine.

Maybe we will, but what about them?  What about these kids who we told how wonderful, special and amazing they are before they even really had an opportunity to amaze us?  Expendable I guess.

I feel bad for Isaiah Crowell.  Not because I think he got a raw deal, or because I feel like Mark Richt should have been more forgiving.  He screwed up, plain and simple. But why?

I feel bad for Isaiah Crowell because I’m not sure that anyone ever really took the time to sit down with him, and explain the true value of his gifts and talents, and what he was being given at Georgia before he signed the papers and strapped on the gear.  Oh sure, he was told “the rules”…right before a daily dose of observing how the rules generally don’t apply to people in his position.

What we did is what we do far too many times.  We exploited his gifts and talents.  For the good of the program.  For the good of the television ratings.  For the good of the conference.  For the good of the game.

I’m not sure who really worried about what’s good for Isaiah…until now.

Yes, University of Georgia football will be fine.  They will probably still win plenty of games without Isaiah Crowell, and possibly even some championships.  All is right in Athens, Ga., I only hope to be able to say the same about Isaiah Crowell in a few years.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell is an extremely gifted athlete.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell may never really get to use those gifts to their full potential.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell may end up – like too many other youths who weren’t even given his advantages – in prison.

Fact: Isaiah Crowell isn’t the last Isaiah Crowell we’ll get to see.

More is the pity.

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