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Friday, February 13, 2004
Updated: February 24, 4:33 PM ET
 



WHAT IS GOING ON IN COLORADO? PART II


Alan Grant responds to Chuck Hirshberg's column from Thursday, when Chuck relates some painful incidents from his junior high days to the sex and recruiting scandals going on at the University of Colorado.

Perception of reality | By Alan Grant

Per yesterday's WB piece by Chuck Hirshberg, both horrifying in detail and fittingly sensitive in tone, I'm moved to respond. But I'm afraid I can't relate, not completely. I can't relate to the tactics employed by one deranged gym coach nor can I relate to the scandal currently rocking college football.

See, almost 20 years ago, in my senior year of high school, I embarked upon my first recruiting trip -- to the University of Colorado. I was offered a scholarship, but nothing else. No money, no cars, and certainly no women or lap dances. Oh, I'm sure some salacious activity was taking place during that particular recruiting season; it just wasn't directed at me.

But that's the point here: What's one man's reality is often another's fantastic tale. That winter, Colorado coach Bill McCartney was embarking upon his second season at the university. But in terms of recruiting, he had yet to pull out all the stops -- at least where I was concerned. So I got nothing.

Throughout my professional life there have been times when I've gotten credit for things I never received, and blame for actions I never took. But I suppose that comes with the territory when your resume includes words like "defensive back." It's called projecting (therapy word), and it's something adults do to other adults who remind them of individuals who committed crimes against them in their youth.

So, for the record, let me state this to anyone who projects things in my direction: I may resemble the kid who once stole your lunch money, but I ain't him. I may resemble the kid who tripped you as you attempted to walk down the hallway, but I ain't him. I may resemble the kid who laughed when you undressed in the locker room, but trust me, I ain't him.

See, while all of this was happening to you, I was busy. I was busy reading, studying, running -- doing anything I could to set the stage for success in my own life. I simply didn't have time, nor did I have an inclination, to kick ass in the locker room. I was busy trying to kick ass everywhere else.

And therein lies the irony of this discussion: That deranged P.E. teacher of whom Chuck so vividly speaks? He reminds me of a few coaches I've encountered along the way. See, that guy never liked me, either. He never liked me because he knew I wasn't about to drink the Kool Aid. In fact, he absolutely hated me for that. But he didn't just hate me for my independent thought, or for my reluctance to pick on the other kids, he hated the fact that I could kick his ass if I so chose. He also knew that, at certain times, I probably wanted to kick his ass. But like I said, I didn't have time for him. I had other things on my mind.

But see, that was my reality. And I now realize that we all have our own versions of reality. For some people, it was picking on other kids, and for others, it was being picked upon. Lucky for me, and all of us who were focused on other things, there's something that attempts, though in crude fashion, to take us places we've never gone before. Yep, I'm talking about the reality TV show.

I think the worst -- and best -- of these programs is a fiendishly constructed little diddy called "Average Joe." The worst part is the logic displayed by a group of guys, each of whom is less than spectacular in appearance, and given a chance to "date" the kind of woman who has never inhabited any part of his personal space.

In one of the first episodes, one of the guys looks into the camera and says, "If she wants a bunch of good guys to hang out with, she's got that in us." This is the problem: Just because a man, in terms of his looks, style, athletic ability and dating experience, is "average" doesn't mean he should be automatically thrust into the category of "good." He still has to earn that distinction, doesn't he? Seriously, some of these guys, despite their supposed endearing shortcomings, come off as nothing more than ill-mannered, socially retarded jerks -- especially the guy who makes this particular statement. But we're supposed to believe that they are deserving of a break because of this? Sorry, I don't buy that.

Apparently, neither does the object of desire. In the very first episode, the woman tells the audience: "These are the kind of guys, who if they asked me out, I'd tell them I had a boyfriend."

OK, maybe that's the worst part.

The best part is the fact these guys get to hang out on a tropical island, occasionally go on "dates" with a hot chick, and speak to the camera in a televised therapy session of sorts. Of course, none of this expunges the trauma inflicted upon them in childhood, or the trauma recreated by a nationally televised game of dodge ball. But don't you think that most of these guys, after such prolonged displays of introspective sensitivity, will get as their ultimate reward that one thing they were denied throughout their tortured adolescence?

Don't you think they'll finally see, taste and smell that one precious element of life that compelled them to take part in this stupid show in the first place? You know what I'm talking about. All these guys are gonna finally get some.

Of course, not by the star of the show, but by all those sympathetic female viewers who will surely recognize their mugs from said TV show and because of that will be compelled to invade their personal space. Though we won't get to hear about it, I'm fairly sure this is reality.