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Happy New Year

“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. ” – Proverbs 29:23

I’ve talked here for years about being a good teammate.

The team is bigger than one person.

Once a player understands the role given, the team will better.

I am not sure how many college football players were sent home for “violating team rules” but it was too many.

And, then, Thursday morning reports surfaced that TCU starting quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested for allegedly hitting a police office after an altercation in a bar close to 2 a.m.

2 a.m.

Four WVU players will miss the Cactus Bowl after being ruled academically ineligible.

How does either happen?

Selfishness.

There is no excuse for any collegiate athlete to become academically ineligible. Considering all the help available to them (I pray one specific establishment takes note), athletes should never miss a game due to poor grades.

From study tables, to study hall to tutors to teammates to academic advisors, athletes have a plethora of avenues at their disposal (see previous statement) to keep their grades up to continue their athletic endeavors.

The days are long gone (or should be) or professors telling athletes they cannot take a road trip with their teammates because school is more important.

That’s what WiFi-equipped modes of transportation, skype and online assignments – to name a few – are for to help athletes.

But, in the long run, it’s all about athletes being held responsible and accountable for their actions, or lack thereof when it comes to grades.

The bottom line is poor grades are due to laziness, also known as selfishness.

Are poor grades that lead to academic ineligibility mistakes?

Nope.

Choices.

I was once on academic probation in college, and had to take 21 units – in a quarter – to get my head above water academically. It wasn’t fun. I was on academic probation because I chose not to study, chose not to crack a book and chose not to turn in assignments.

There was no one there holding me hostage to miss an assignment, or not study for that midterm.

That was all me.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6

Years ago former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel spoke at the old St. John Arena. Many high school football players were there.

His simple message to them, “Nothing good ever happens after 10 p.m.”

He was right then and it still right.

Boykin chose to go in a bar.

Yes, being 22-years-old, he has that right, but not during football season and certainly not before the last game of his collegiate career.

He was arrested for, among other things, striking a police officer.

Nice choice there.

Boykin chose to put himself above the team and above the game.

That, folks, is the definition of selfishness.

And, as I have said far too many times, Boykin made a decision, not a mistake.

A mistake is throwing an interception.

This was not that.

From espn.go.com:

Boykin and the people with him were removed from the bar, but the fight continued. San Antonio bicycle police officers arrived at the scene and tried to stop the fight with the help of bar bouncers. According to an incident report provided by the San Antonio PD, the suspect “was very aggressive and was being held back by the group that he was with. Members of his group stated they would get him back to the hotel they were staying at.”

After walking away, the suspect, whom police were told by bystanders was Boykin, charged officers. McManus said that he was swinging and struck an officer in the face. Several officers then took Boykin to the ground. After officers threatened to use a stun gun on Boykin, he was arrested. In addition to the charge of assaulting a police officer, he also faces charges of resisting arrest and public intoxication, according to the police chief.

Does that read like mistakes to you?

Nope.

Choices.

And, this comes as he, like many, are four months away from the NFL draft.

“And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:” – Isaiah 5:15

Memphis senior Reggie Ball intercepted two passes in Wednesday’s 31-10 loss to Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. He returned one for a touchdown.

He will be remembered, though, as the guy who stole an Auburn football after the game, ran away with it and, not much after that, being dismissed from the football program.

Mistakes?

Nope.

Choices.

Oh yeah, it was caught on video.

Two athletic departments, in two days, have had to apologize to the respective bowl games they were playing in, the fans and anyone else who would listen, about choices made by a member of the team.

A little photo making its rounds on social media says:

These require zero talent:

1. Being on time

2. Work ethic

3. Effort

4. Body language

5. Energy

6. Attitude

7. Passion

8. Being coachable

9. Doing extra

10. Being prepared

“The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.” – Knute Rockne

“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com, followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike and is on the radio weekday mornings from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with Joey Klepack and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturdays on WEIR-AM)