Who Wins When ‘Student’ and ‘Athlete’ Clash? The University.
Cardale Jones is Ohio State University’s third-string quarterback, but don’t let that fool you. He is a physical specimen listed at 6’5”, 235 pounds who plays his sport’s most important position. In 2011, when he was a senior playing for Coach Ted Ginn (a prominent headset-wearer whose son plays for the San Francisco 49ers), Yahoo!’s high school football site rivals.com named Jones the 12th-best prep-level quarterback in the country. Right now, he is only a college freshman; his time in the spotlight seems bound to come.
Yet Jones may have jeopardized his career over a deed some have called “childish” and his school deemed “inappropriate.” Did he get caught drinking as a minor? Was it something more serious, like criminal felony charges? Did it have to do with football—the sort of recruiting violations committed by eight former OSU players, which resulted in the Buckeyes’ being banned from playing in a bowl game this season?
No. It was a tweet. Friday, Jones (whose account has since been taken down) tweeted, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL classes are pointless.” In response, the school suspended him for a game. In a statement, the university said, “We allow our student-athletes the opportuity to express themselves via the social mediums. What we do ask of them and communicate to them is the importance of being respectful, appropriate and aware that their communications can impact many people.” Yesterday, over email, a university spokesperson clarified, “His message was disrespectful and inappropriate in the context of being a student-athlete.”
It certainly was. The disciplining of Cardale Jones gets to the heart of the hypocrisy of that much-maligned term “student-athlete.” It’s just a bit of sumptuously ironic icing on the cake that the substance of his tweet was actually about this very hypocrisy.