Friday March 24 2017
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Ruining My Favorite Sport

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I'm a Michigan fan stuck in the middle of Buckeye Country. I moved here five years ago, when I was 10 years old, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. My mother was a professor at the University of Michigan, both parents were Michigan grads, and older sister was a freshman there.

But my father had gotten a job as a hospital administrator in Columbus the year before and spent that year traveling back and forth, which was hard on him and not fun for the family. My mother, wanting to get back into high school education, had just landed a job as a school superintendent in the Columbus area and we decided to relocate.

Although I hated the idea at the time, I now love Columbus. I have plenty of friends, I am sports editor of my high school paper, and I'm playing soccer for my school as well. My other sister just started her freshman year at Toledo, and my oldest sister—the Michigan grad—just got a job nearby, so the family has adapted to the idea of Ohio as our new home.

The main problem is—or at least used to be—the fact that we are still huge Michigan fans stuck in Buckeye country. I rode my bike down my street this morning, and counted nine Ohio State flags flying at 23 houses. Only one Michigan flag – ours, of course.

But that USED to be the main problem. Today, the bigger problem isn't which college you root for, it's which rules that college is breaking.

The college football world was rocked by the scandal at the University of Miami last month. But the thing is, the news didn't really shock anyone. And not because it was Miami, who has been involved in scandals before, but because it was just one more scandal in college football.

Ohio State players traded jerseys, autographs and rings for tattoos. Michigan coaches broke practice and workout rules. Oregon's coaching staff broke recruiting rules. Cam Newton's dad wanted cash for his son to play football at Mississippi State. Southern Cal boosters gave cash to the parents of the Trojans' star players. Even West Virginia's head coach got drunk and disorderly at bars and casinos all winter and spring.

Who's next? Some school will be, and probably before the season even starts. These scandals aren't exactly new to college football, but they are ruining the sport. Ohio State fans, like my family and me, are denied the chance to root for our favorite players. USC fans are denied Heisman Trophy bragging rights. Miami fans may even be denied their football program altogether.

I don't have the answers, and I'm not the first person to point out the problem. But I do know that if an answer isn't found soon—and if the NCAA doesn't at least try to figure this out—American football fans will lose something that has been sacred to a lot of people for a long time.

John Russell, 10th grade, Pickerington, OH

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