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Having Division 1 athletes pledge your house is always tricky. On one hand, their presence around jersey-chasing sorority girls alone will instantly transform any mixer into a moist Hurricane Katrina party. And risk management? Forget about it. No GDI is bullrushing a closed party when a 6’5”, 300+ stack of meat is working the door.
However, a lot of logistic issues end up arising when these beefsticks get bids, namely, figuring out a way to intimidate dudes who are not only twice your size, but who you’ll be calling the worst pledge ever on Friday, then turning around and rooting for him on Gameday Saturday. (Pro-tip: make him as unstable as possible and repeatedly bang his head with a hard object, Junior Seau-style).
The result of these hurdles? Less and less fraternity gentleman are suiting up on Sundays.
Once joined at the hip pad, fraternities and sports have grown apart, especially at Georgia and other universities in top leagues such as the Southeastern Conference. This shift is at odds with the growth spurt in fraternities, whose membership increased 29 percent to 327,260 from 2005-06 to 2011-12.
While Greek life camaraderie appeals to athletes, coaches with power over their playing time and scholarships often frown on it. Just three of 254 players chosen in the National Football League draft last May were fraternity members, according to the North-American Interfraternity Conference in Indianapolis. Its annual census of fraternity alumni in the NFL shows a 19 percent decline since 2003, to 52 players.
With millions of dollars in broadcast and other revenue at stake, as well as their own jobs, coaches at big-time sports programs control their players’ lives around the clock, imposing year-round training and close academic monitoring. That strict regimen is the antithesis of a fraternity culture often marked by excessive drinking and even mayhem.
Damn shame what’s going on. Knowing your brother’s out there on Sundays shortening his lifespan one concussion at a time really enhances the excitement of your viewing experience. I remember one time watching the 2011 playoffs in the house basement with a few pledge brothers. The Texans are playing the Bengals. Schaub was hurt and sitting where he belongs (the sidelines), so in comes third-string gunslinger T.J. Yates. Who? Exactly. We’re just relentlessly mocking this guy until we find out that he was an alum. Yates may have been a useless loser on the field, but he was OUR loser. When the Texans won (God, that sentence feels wrong, and that’s coming from a Lions fan), it was like, in a sense, we won.
I can’t prove it, but this is somehow Commish Roger Goodell’s fault. First, Darth Goodell turned the NFL into the No Fun League, and now he’s gone and made it the Not Frat League (h/t Brian McGannon). Someone needs to take immediate action to get this sun-adverse dork out of power before he ruins the national passion, and soon. We’re running out of NF puns.
Get your priorities together, football. If this stuff continues and guys like my homey Gronk can’t go Greek, heads will roll, and this time, it won’t be from the chronic traumatic encephalopathy.