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A dear football mom column, by Candy Westbrook

Dear Football Mom,

What is wrong with these college coaches who want players to take summer school courses and stay on campus? Our son didn’t flunk out, in fact, maintains an average 3.0 or higher the last two years. Yet he told us recently they want him this summer again. Even though he’s entering his junior year of college, they still want him to stay on campus, take a class and work out. His position coach told me at the spring game that if he doesn’t stay, he’ll lose his starting position. What the heck? I’m peeved.

Dear Reader,

So, you can be miffed all day long, but that won’t change a dad-blame thing. I get it, I do. You just want to know what in the tarnation is going on and why they keep your son every summer. Well, I can tell you, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

According to the NCAA rules, college coaches cannot legally keep players on campus through the summer to workout. Usually, as in everything, coaches find ways around the mulberry bush. Some coaches were fired for this very ruse as it went public. It’s called — under the radar, “volunteer summer workouts.”

You won’t hear coaches calling it summer workouts. They depend on the upper classmen to explain it to the younger puppies as “volunteer practice.” They may tell you they need him on campus to go over a few things, but the walk-throughs, game plays or workouts won’t be mentioned. “Shoot-fire, if the team wants to work out a few kinks over the summer, we (coaches) sure won’t stop them.” Funny thing — that practice field is never locked. 

I nearly blew a gasket when I learned that in some cases it’s almost better to flunk a course or two, because then, programs can legally pay for summer school and voilà, they’ve got the kid on campus for the summer.

The restrictions the NCAA enforces are plentiful, and you nearly have to be a lawyer to understand them all. But most programs do indeed have lawyers at their disposal who not only keep tabs on how their coaches behave but assist them through the shrubs as well. As you will find in college football, there are always ways to play ring-around-the-rosy rules. And, I suppose the lawyers help them do just that.

In my honest opinion, I don’t believe we can really blame the coaches. Think about it. If college coaches allowed the entire team off for summer, the players could lose any momentum they’d gained over spring practice and get rusty. If players took a long break, how in the beejeezes would that give any team any edge over their fiercest rivalry next season? It wouldn’t. You think State U isn’t doing the same thing? Think again. 

Ask yourself this question: Do you enjoy watching your team tee up with one of the most hated rivalry teams in your conference only to see them lose? Of course not. Every team in America is always looking for ways to get a leg up, especially for conference titles or in-state rivalries. 

Hang tough, Mom. You really wouldn’t want him home when his team is hard at it, would you? We have to take a big gulp and swallow a cup of sacrifice. Then again, as in everything, let’s put it in perspective. Don’t you think not having our sons home over summer is a little more like sipping a chocolate milkshake compared to what our military families go through? 

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