What was the best part of playing sports while you were growing up? The camaraderie of participating in team sports with friends both new and old? The thrill of competition? Those badass uniforms that sometimes bore the actual name and logo of a real pro franchise? No, no, no, and definitely no. We played for the snacks, baby.
But that’s small-time athletics, y’know, and all part of the “hey everyone gets to play” low levels of competition. When it comes to real D-I, big-money sports like football, though, things are on a whole different level when it comes to nutrition and other ways of taking care of athletes. Well, everywhere except New Mexico State University.
According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, the Aggies are trying to cut their budgets, and that includes by soliciting after-practice snacks from fans:
In a twist on Little League moms lining up after-game treats, New Mexico State’s budget-conscious football staff distributed an e-mail this week asking fans to donate after-practice or late-night snacks for hungry players.
“It’s a decision we had to make with regard to our meals,” first-year coach DeWayne Walker said Thursday. “There are a lot of other areas where we have to make tough choices with how we’re going to spend our money.”
The good news for Walker and his players has been the community’s response. The memo went out after the first day of practice, and six donors wasted no time before they ponied up.
“It’s good stuff like trail mix or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” linebacker Jamar Cotton said. “We had a guy bring in a bunch of watermelons. That was great. The team was excited. It was like little kids getting lollypops.”
First - isn’t it “lollipop”? We’ve never seen it spelled with a Y. It’s even setting off our spellcheck. AP, we expected better from you. But we digress.
Obviously, this is not a sustainable course of action for New Mexico State or its athletes. Not only must it be a vicious negative selling point when it comes to recruiting (”C’mon, you don’t want to have to beg for snacks, do you? Play here instead!”), but any dependence on an exogenous factor like generosity when it comes to nutrition is a terrible long-term plan. Yes, the economy’s bad and it’s a nice short-term fix, but this can’t last.
Moreover, what does it say about a school when their plans to cut money from budgets include food? Granted, they’re not starving their boys or anything like that - Because when you starve people to death, THAT is where we draw the line, people! We say NO to genocide! - but it seems like keeping athletes well-fed is so crucial to their development that if you start messing with that and turning your locker room into a food kitchen, you’re putting your team at a significant disadvantage.
There’s got to be other places to cut money from the budget - how’s that athletic director’s salary looking, for instance? You think he needs all that more than his athletes need grub? Please.