For UGA Student Athletes, Winning Is Everything

It’s one of the many trite phrases that infiltrates the phrases of sports conversations, which are usually about as meaninful as the trite conversations most of us observers have about politics.  “Winning is everything”.

Thus, the moral imperitive is shifted.  Winning must be done at all costs.  Rules become fungible.  Personal conduct standards can be overlooked.  Bragging rights for middle aged pot bellied alumni (hey! that’s me!) become more important that fundamentals.  Than honor.  Than character.

To be frank, many have often accused UGA head coach Mark Richt of “losing control of his program”.  There have been a lot of disciplinary issues.  Our nemesis, Coach Steve Spurrier, often jokes about getting to play UGA early in the season because he can always count on us having a player or five on suspension.  There have also been expulsions.

We’ll sidestep the debate for now (though I’m more than willing to have it) over whether that means UGA has a player problem, or quite the opposite:  Perhaps we have higher standards for student conduct.  If you wish to debate this, please be prepared to refute exhibit A, exhibit B, and exhibit C.

Instead, I’d like to highlight two players from UGA that are doing it right.  They are leading on and off the field.  And they make me proud as a son of a man that got to go to college at UGA because of a football scholarship of the term “student athlete”.

The first is Senior wide receiver Chris Conley.  Lawton wrote a bit about him here earlier in the week for being named to the “Good Works Team”.  He’s seems to be the face of the Bulldogs this year in most media events.  He’s more polished than most folks that get paid seven figures by ESPN, and clearly has more going on upstairs than the lot of them.  He’s also a semi-finalist for the William Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the best scholar athlete in the nation.  Good luck to Chris, as he’s clearly already a winner.

Now I’d like you to take a moment (even you Auburn fans) and watch the following about Malcom Mitchell.  I hope it changes your day:

“Somebody called me a nerd. That’s not a word that I’m used to hearing,” he said. But he’s more than okay with the label. “I was proud of it… It’s like a badge of honor to me, knowing where I came from.”

Mitchell confessed that when he started college he could only read at about a junior high level, and it bothered him. So he started putting as much effort into his reading game as his football game.

Every free moment, he had a book in his hand. He’s now reading things he never dreamed he could, and although some of the book club selections he would never pick himself, Mitchell seems to enjoy them all.

After everything he’s accomplished, what’s he most proud of?

“I finished the ‘Hunger Games’ series in about two days,” Mitchell said.

Wait, but what about the touchdowns?

“That came natural,” Mitchell said. “That’s a gift. I had to work to read.”

UGA has a culture where winning IS everything.  Thus, this should not be construed as an excuse for losing nor an acceptance that we’ll never be considered an elite program because we set our standards too high.  Far from it.  Our student athletes expect to win and are expected to win ON and off the field.  These are high expectations.  They are difficult – some may say impossible – to meet.  And yet, this is what they are.  This is how we compete.

It’s also just important to remember when we gather as a family of 92,000 for our games, what the real game is that our student athletes are playing. When I hear the words from Conley and Mitchell, I know they’re winning – and will continue to do so long after the clock ends on the 4th quarter.  I’m proud of them, and I continue to be proud of my school.

Go Dawgs!


    • Baker says:

      Seriously though, I’ve gotten into this argument a lot with a fellow UGA fan about our program versus some others that may be more successful.

      Tyron Mathieueaueax got busted how many times for drugs and no one even knew about it? At UGA, you know about it.

      I’m super proud of having Mark Richt as a coach and proud of these guys. Nice highlight Charlie!

  1. xdog says:

    Both Conley and Mitchell well represent their families, their school, their teammates, and themselves. Damn good dawgs, both of them.

  2. Ralph says:

    It starts with the recruiting of thugs, hence the well earned nickname of thUGA. These mostly illiterates whose whole life is geared toward the NFL have been coddled by coaches since adolescence.

    Richt and the rest of the coaching staff set a poor example when they encourage on field behavior of team demonstrations, excessive celebration by individuals and groups. Richt’s comment before the South Carolina game that it “would be a bloody fist-fight” after years of altercations is a typical poor example.

    Nice that this site highlights the positive. Too bad UGA doesn’t do the same.

    • blakeage80 says:

      I’m not sure how deep in what obscure forum thread you had to read to find ‘thUGA’, but I think you should keep your nonsensical comments there.
      Every school recruits kids from struggling neighborhoods where there isn’t much to do except play inexpensive street versions of sports. The difference in the UGA Football program and some other schools is, as Charlie pointed out, standards that have definite, meaningful consequences designed to help these guys win at life. As well, after they have exhausted their chances in Athens, Coach Richt gives them freedom to go where they think will be best for them. He loves them even on their way out the door. I’m glad that UGA reaches into communities where a young man or woman might not be in the most ideal circumstances, yet has a chance to accomplish things that may NEVER happened in their family history.

      GO DAWGS.

  3. Noway says:

    thUGA didn’t originate on an obscure blog. UGA has been called that for quite a while. Of course, it could be applied to any major college that recruits the many examples of societal debris that end up wearing their uniforms.

  4. saltycracker says:

    We will have our professional gladiators and be better off for filtering them through our higher educational system. So will they as more lives will be improved than not.

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