This weekend I am heading back to Asheville to support my friends and colleagues who will be receiving their diplomas during Saturday’s graduation ceremony. It is almost a little sad really. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in an old school desk desperately trying to hold my bladder because I had already used the bathroom pass three times during that period. Oh ya, that was yesterday. But high school still seems like a recent stomping ground. I was always a studious young lad; eager to listen and excited to learn. One might say that I was an introvert, bringing up the rear in a “nice guys finish last” world. One also might not say that. Who am I to say what one might say.
When it is all said and done, I can’t deny I will be proud of the graduates and excited for what their futures hold. Some will enlist. Some will immediately enter the workforce. Some will try to rob a bank. Others will go to college. Regardless of their choice, you have to admire their aspirations to follow their dreams. Anything is better than sitting around and doing nothing.
For the kids like me who decided that college was the next logical step in their ascendance to a multi-billion dollar yearly salary, you all will soon attend freshmen orientation at your respective schools, if you haven’t already. The orientation program at Carolina is called CTOPS. It stands for Campus cafeterias Trick Oblivious Parents into believing that the food doesn’t actually Suck during the school year. At least I think that’s it. Whatever it stands for, it sells meal plans.
I have had my fair share of orientation experience as I went to one myself, and then have been on campus for about 50 other ones because Carolina hosts two per week all summer. Like every other UNC athlete, I know the process. I know the schedule. And I know the scheme. But I am not here to try to force you into believing anything. All I want to do is present the facts so that you can make an educated decision.
To drive the point home, let us role play. You just got back from your orientation and you are pretty excited because while you were on campus you saw over twenty football players, every sprinter on the track team, and the whole starting five for the basketball team…. plus the 6th man. Is this a coincidence, or are you just the luckiest freshman to every come to orientation? They were all just right there when you went to lunch. And then you saw even more of them when it was time to go to evening seminar. You even saw some at CTOPS After Dark—a freshmen only event. Oh boy, wait till you tell you friends back home. The same people you have been watching on TV for the last few years were around every corner you turned.
Alright, the role play is over now. Stop getting so into it, you are weirding me out. Okay, so now that I am done with the objective presentation of the facts, here is what I was getting at: athletes use orientation as a opportunity to get a leg up on the competition and get an early look at the talent that will be on campus in the fall. Think of it as a combine, if you will. They (Notice when I talk about the athletes I say “they” because I like to distance myself from all negative stereotypes regardless of validity behind them) are searching for top performers to move up on their draft board. They just want to see the 4.3 40-yard dash like everyone else. And when a combine is being held, a participant should always know every team is watching.
To sum it up, it is no accident that you ran into a ton of football and basketball players on campus. Really what I am trying to say is MSNBC and Chris Hanson could hold their season finale in the pit at lunchtime of a Carolina Orientation.
So next time you even think that it was a coincidence that you saw the big time star athlete on campus during your orientation, may you be slapped in the face by every bandwagon Heat fan in the United States of America, myself included.
Until next time,