Technically, every college basketball player is a student-athlete. But that distinction can oftentimes be misleading. Oftentimes, for a variety of reasons, "athlete" vastly outweighs "student," even when that student-athlete is doing enough to maintain his academic eligibility during his time in school. I am not describing a new problem. Anyone who has spent any time paying attention to college sports knows this is the case. It's just kind of how things work these days. Sometimes people complain, but as long as the games remain entertaining and the home team stays successful -- and one of college hoops' biggest stars doesn't insinuate that he can graduate in three years without ever having to read a book -- no one complains too much.
Still, even if fans understand this, they do like to be reminded that "student-athlete" can still be a meaningful term. There's something pure about the well-rounded, educationally inclined college athlete, something less cynical than the usual reality. It's refreshing and noteworthy. Maybe it shouldn't be, but it is.
Which brings us to the Kansas state legislature and Tyrel Reed, and the former's decision to publicly honor the latter on the floor of the state House and Senate chambers Wednesday. From the Lawrence Journal-World:
Reed, accompanied by his parents, Stacy and Debbie Reed, was commended in both the House and Senate for his athletic and academic achievements and for being a role model to young people. “Tyrel Reed exemplifies excellence in basketball, academics and life,” said Sen. Jeff King, who serves Kansas’ 15th District, which includes Burlington, Reed’s hometown. “I am honored to join Senator Jeff Longbine in recognizing Tyrel’s many accomplishments and the fine example he sets for Kansas kids.”
Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, introduced the Reeds on the floor of the House of Representatives. The three-time academic all-Big 12 pick who graduated from KU in 3 1/2 years as a pre-physical therapy and exercise science major with a 3.65 GPA received a standing ovation.
Reed is one those guys for whom everything seems to come easy. He was 95-4 in his high school career in Burlington, Kan., when he made three state playoff appearances and won one state title. Then, he went to Kansas, where by his senior year he found himself playing starter minutes in a deep backcourt on one of the best teams in the nation. All the while, he excelled enough off the court to maintain that sterling GPA and get himself accepted into the postgraduate physical therapy program at the KU Medical Center.
This is deeply irritating. I'm kidding, but just barely. The universe is supposed to mete these things out evenly: You get to be the jock, I get to be good at words, this other kid gets to be good at math and we all live out our destinies accordingly. When someone has all of those things in one package -- when someone seems this effortlessly put together, even though effort is a required component to any such success -- it's not only worthy of honor. It's also downright enviable.