Volume 96, Issue 7
Tuesday, September 10, 2002

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Don't believe the hype

Bell Tolls
Jordan Bell
Sports Editor

Every sports fan has dreamed of meeting their professional sports hero; to gaze up at a supposed god and validate their assumption that this athlete is everything they believed he or she to be.

If such an encounter has ceased to come to fruition in your life thus far, don't fret – you probably aren't missing much.

We spend our entire lives grasping for what we deem to be the greatest the world has to offer, when ironically it's right beneath our nose. We search for the blond bombshell with the ginormous rack when the girl next door is actually smart and funny, the Dodge Viper when a 1991 Saturn will do the same job and leave a little coin in your pocket and lastly, we strive to meet a professional sporting hero when an amateur athlete is infinitely more appealing.

Amateur athletes – such as the individuals The Gazette report about on a daily basis – are pure. They haven't been corrupted by the bling bling, the constant coddling and the incessantly overbearing limelight. They aren't jaded.

I was once among the group of people who believed if somebody was on television or adored by millions it validated them as human beings.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, to be the best is to be "of most excellent and desirable kind." After covering two years of athletics here at Western, my idea of sporting utopia has definitely changed.

Witnessing determined women compete with unbridled passion in a meaningless soccer game on Friday and speak about it afterwards with pride, validates my theory that the true heroes are amateur athletes who play for the love of the game and not pay cheques they receive afterwards.

Amateur athletes get no bling – only bruises, fatigue and the "opportunity" to perform their craft in front of about the same amount of people who attended Operation Massive.

I could cite endless examples of reasons why amateur (particularly university) sports are not only on par, but better than the majority of professional sports, but there's only so much space in this newspaper.

I refuse to generalize about professional athletes as a whole, because judgments will be the death of civilization as we know it. However, I have been on both sides of the fence. I have witnessed amateur and professional athletics and I have met Vince Carter and Jason Kidd to name a few and I will be the first to admit they aren't all they're cracked up to be.

The unfortunate reality is that if university athletics continues to be shredded by funding cuts as they have recently been at Western, they will cease to exist – give or take a few, like football and basketball.

I don't urge you to attend university games this season, because I don't think you should feel obligated, but I do offer one opinion on the games across our lovely campus. It's up to you to make up your own mind on whether I hold some validity or I'm just some bumbling idiot.

But in all honesty, believe the hype.

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2002 THE GAZETTE