The screenshot below is from this story at Chronicle.com that briefly touches on the most poignantly awesome sports story of the new year.
In short: Tom Walter, a head coach of the Wake Forest baseball team, donated a kidney to Kevin Jordan, a freshman outfielder. That kind of selflessness and sacrifice is exactly what coaches try to instill in their players and teams; Tom Walter actually led by incredible example. It’s a great story. (For more on it, click here.)
What caught my eye about the post at The Chronicle was the first comment on the story. Take a look:
Screenshot source: The Chronicle
What makes this comment – Does this violate NCAA requirements regarding gifts to student athletes? – so great is that I have no idea if the commenter was being irreverent and snarky or dead serious. Either way, it’s a perfectly appropriate comment to make. Such is the ambiguity the NCAA has wrought with its over-complicated and contradictory rule book and methods and enforcement.
I have to assume that such an act – donating an organ to a player – is not against NCAA rules. How could it be, right? It’s not something that happens often and the human interest benefits are so profound that the NCAA could not possibly penalize someone for doing so…right?
I am sitting right now thinking about this, and I don’t know for certain. I really don’t. I assume it’s not against any rule, I hope it’s not against rule, but I would put nothing past the NCAA when it comes to absurdity. There really is a part of me that thinks it very well could violate some arcane, obscure NCAA rule, and I bet you’re now starting to question it yourself. (Are you?)
Because here’s the thing: as I ruminate on this, all I keep thinking about is that somewhere Nick Saban, after reading the story of Tom Walter and Kevin Jordan, is trying to find out if Jadeveon Clowney has a relative in need of a kidney. Gene Chizik probably is too. If it meant signing the #1 player in the country, don’t you think Saban, Chizik, and other coaches of their win-at-all-costs ilk would donate a kidney?
Okay, maybe not…but maybe.
Admit that you at least considered it as a possibility. And if that’s the case, wouldn’t the NCAA have to step in and make some kind of rule so the unscrupulous Sabans and Chiziks and Caliparis of the world don’t start donating organs – or finding donors – as yet another way of luring recruits?
And would it even be so bad if they did? Who cares what their motives are…if they donate a kidney, isn’t ultimately a wonderfully good thing to do? So what if it’s part of a grander plan to lure a recruit a campus?
Update: I decided to take a poll on this to see just how ridiculous you think the notion is:
It’s ridiculous, this discussion is. All of it. Totally ridiculous. I feel ridiculous even typing what I just typed. And yet…I can’t help but feel that maybe it’s only a touch ridiculous, and that we really are not that far away from something like this in the current environment of college sports. Then I think that’s what is truly ridiculous, before demanding to myself that I stop thinking about all this ridiculousness right now.
And I got all of this from from one reader comment that asked a perfectly logical (or snarky) question in response to a beautiful, inspiring story. Am I the only one?
* – Nick Saban photo credit: KEVIN C. COX / GETTY IMAGES via Seattle Times