Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 19 Who Should Be an All American?

We were just looking at the results of the NCAA DI , DII, DIII meets and the list of "All Americans" goes on and on and on, and on....eight deep in all events.    Several of my friends have been having a discussion about this subject and below are some of their thoughts. 
 
But first in thinking about this subject, I've wondered where the term comes from and what it means.

Wikipedia states
The original use of the term "All-America" seems to have been in reference to a list of college football players who were regarded as the best at their respective positions. The first "All-America" team was the 1889 College Football All-America Team selected by Caspar Whitney and published in This Week's Sports in association with Walter Camp.[

   I don't know if Walter Camp invented the term when he self nominated the first class of football All Americans, or if he derived the term from someone other than himself.   It seems that in our day and age we are prone to glorification of individuals for many reasons.  We use the word 'hero' attributing it to soldiers, firemen, and a few other random individuals who by someone's definition calls them by that moniker.  It seems throughout history that whenever we want to sell an idea or a potentially unpopular event like a war, we have to create a few heroes to get public buy in or to get a war weary public to continue to buy in.  Only recently our government decided to award medals fifty years late, because some heroes did not fit the racial or ethnic standards of our nation in that period.  I had an uncle who served in the Battle of the Bulge who told me a black soldier took a bullet for him, but that soldier was never awarded anything for his act.   I also believe that Paul Robson, an African American, was named to one of Camp's early teams and had that honor revoked later in his theatrical and operatic career when he made known his leftist sympathies.  


1
a also all–Amer·i·ca \-ə-kə\ :  selected (as by a poll of journalists) as one of the best in the United States in a particular category at a particular time <an all–American quarterback>
b :  having only all-American participants <an all–American basketball team>
2
:  composed wholly of American elements
3
:  representative or typical of the United States or its ideals <an all–American boy> <her all–American optimism>
4
:  of or relating to the American nations as a group

First Known Use of ALL-AMERICAN

1888
 

Definition of ALL-AMERICAN

1
also all–Amer·i·ca :  one (as an athlete) that is voted all-American
2
:  one that has all-American qualities or characteristics <a clean-cut all–American>


Wikipedia gives the standard for college track and field All-American.
 
Also administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the selection rules are that the top eight finishers in each individual event, as well as American competitors who finish outside of the top eight in their event but are among the top eight of the American finishers in an event, earn All-America designation. Relays are judged strictly on a top-eight basis. The cutoff of eight places is the same for both indoor and outdoor competition. The student-athlete's team must be a member of the USTFCCCA.

It looks as if the USTFCCA sets the standards.

My Question.     If a relay team composed of a Jamaican with an American mother , a Burundian , a Jordanian born in the U.S. but who has retained his Jordanian citizenship through his parents, and an American citizen born in Barbados but with the voice of an Irish tenor finishes third in the DIII  Distance Medley.   Are they all four   All Americans?

My other question.  Should someone lose his/her All American status if they are later to commit a felony, or be expelled from school for cheating, or maybe for doing some other dastardly deed?  Paul Robson certainly did.

Just thought of another question.  If a runner breaks an American record  or has an extraordinary series of performances during the season but is injured and cannot compete in the NCAA meet or is injured in the meet or is DQ'd, should they be an All American?

Anyway,  here is the discussion between two of my friends about the matter.  I'm sure this will elicit some strong opinions from our readers, and we encourage them to chime in.   Let me also state that neither I nor the other two chaps are All Americans.  Not to say we aren't nice guys. 
  
 
 I don't get into this "All-American" crap. For 8th.place in the D3 women's high jump, you are now an All-American. Take the top (8) best collegiate marks, regardless of division and let it go at that. Mike tells me now that there are All-American certificates given out for age group competition. Let's see how we can really dilute this to a greater extent. How about Scott Shilito's world record for the 100 yard dash for one year old children?

There are NCAA (Divisions I, II and III) All-Americans, NAIA All-Americans, high school All-Americans and probably grade school All-Americans somewhere.  All you really have to do is host a meet, call it a national meet, then award All-American status to as many as you want at that meet, mostly living within 50 miles of the meet site.  However, to my knowledge there have never been any 1 year-old All-Americans but I am sure that is an oversight which will soon be corrected.  Scott Shillito must wait his time until justice is served.  Maybe we could help his cause with "Free Scott Shillito" t-shirts. 
 
All-americans are out of control.  If you were the football or basketball coach at an above average school such as UC, you would get 1 and possibly 2 All-Americans per year.  In track or swimming, you might get 15-20 per season, times 3 seasons.  Big time inflation.
As mentioned earlier, I think that All American status at the D. 1 level is legitimate but at other levels and ages it is not. If these people can "break into" the top eight true Americans and possess a U.S. passport, let "Katy Bar The Door" as they say in West Virginy.
 
I don't even think D-I All-Americans are worthy.  At UC we once had Carl Burgess in the 1960s get sixth in the LJ but he was not an All-American because they only took five.  Before that it was three.  Now it is 16 indoors and 16 outdoors.  It is a bit silly, not in harmony with the numbers in other sports.  If you want to produce All-Americans, go to T&F and swimming.  In fact, forget swimming because the track coach has three seasons to add to his pile.  There have to be a few coaches out there who have produced 500-600 All-Americans, and maybe even more.  I actually spoke against this inflation at the USTFCCCA convention, but was outvoted in overwhelming fashion.  I suspect it had to do with bonuses for coaches who produce All-Americans.  Actually, produce is a word you can use when you grow vegetables in the ground, and even then you don't do much more than drop the seed and allow the sun to shine and the rain to fall, which, upon further consideration, is about all we do with our athletes.  All we can do now is complain about the present condition and yearn for the good old days like Katy in West Virginny.    


I would disagree that coaches don't teach and instruct and encourage athletes to do better, but again going back to the old days, There was often only one coach and hopefully a retiree, assistant, and maybe a grad student to coach the whole team.  There was no way they could be knowledgeable and available to all those people in all those events.  So a lot of an athlete's progress was up to the athlete and his teammates.    Now days at a DI school, there seem to be more assistant track coaches than you would have found total employees in an athletic department 50 years ago.  And so today coaches more than likely do more hands on coaching of individuals, but the head coach is the one that gets all the credit. 


George,
  In response to the 3 questions on your blog:   
   (1)  All members of the relay team which finished third are to be considered All-American even if none are US citizens.  They cannot set a country record based on IAAF standards since none hail from the same country, but they are All-Americans based on the USTFCCCA standards which refer only to NCAA Championship competitions.
   (2)  To my knowledge no All-American has ever lost his status for discrediting himself or this country.  Paul Robeson was a first-team All-American lineman at Rutgers who was put on Sen. Joe McCarthy's list during the Red Scare.  He did have communist affiliations but then so did many people at that time in the US and elsewhere.  Since he was a high-profile opera singer and black, he was singled out more than most.  In the end it was Joe McCarthy who was found to be in violation of the US constitution, not Paul Robeson.
   (3)  A US record during the regular season will not earn a person All-American status but simply the title of US record holder, a more difficult club to enter.  All-American is reserved only for success in the NCAA Championships in XC (top 40), indoor T&F (top 16 of 16) and outdoor T&F (top 16 of 24).  The top 8 are first team All-Americans, the next 8 are second team All-Americans and the final 8 are honorable mention All-Americans.  The first and second team can be referred to as All-Americans and will receive a plaque for their efforts.


Here is where I probably got the mistaken sense that Robeson's All American status was revoked.
Wikipedia listed the following in his biography.  It unfortunately does not name the book that left Robeson off the All Amerian list and also notes that several others were left off, because their universities could not provided names of their former All American students.

A book reviewed in early 1950 as "the most complete record on college football"[196] failed to list Robeson as ever having played on the Rutgers team[197] and as ever having been an All-American

Brown 1998: 162; cf. Robeson 1971: 5, Walsh only listed a ten man All-American team for the 1917 team and he lists no team due to World War I. Walsh: 1949: 16–18, 32, The information in the book was compiled by information from the colleges, "...but many deserving names are missing entirely from the pages of [the] book because ... their alma mater was unable to provide them. – Glenn S. Warner" Walsh: 6, The Rutgers University list was presented to Walsh by Gordon A. McCoy, Director of Publicity for Rutgers, and although this list says that Rutgers had two All-Americans at the time of the publishing of the book, the book only lists the other All-American and does not list Robeson as being an All-American. Walsh: 684



George:

I think that when I was a Sr. at WMU they awarded All American Status in T & F to top 3 (None Indoors- because there was No Indoor Championship.

It seems to me that they should be awarded in track and field to the finalists in each event up to 5 or 8.
I don't know about awarding All American Certificates to Division 2  or 3 seems like it gets awfully watered down. (Unless they have better times than D-1 athletes.

For cross country the top 15 American's Seems Good to me. To get to "American's we should first bump out any foreign athletes
and then take the next 15 Americans. (I am okay with give All American Status to the top 15 Foreign athletes who are in the actual top 15.)

Heck, Why should I care. But, here is my 2 cents worth.

I thought All American meant hamburger French fries and coke at McDonald's. THE ALL AMERICAN MEAL. Coaching college track and field athletes at the NAIA DIII OR DII levels (I have not coached DI) most times if you're lucky to have an athlete all four years, you may see some progression???? Most athletes enjoy getting injured to get out of practice but still want to compete on Friday and Saturday. If you take the whole season and start at outdoor nationals and count back to first day of practice, you have a short time to whip these gifted people in to a perfect student of their event.


 

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