By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari has some interesting information at coachcal.com about how his players had lost weight during the first semester and that “part of the reason they’ve been so exhausted in practice and in games is their energy levels have been low” due to some of the players not eating enough.
Not eating enough? How can that be for a Kentucky basketball player?
Let Calipari explain.
“Under the current rules, if a young man eats at our training table and wants to take some food for later, he can’t. It’s either eat it all there or go hungry the rest of the night. We have a kitchen here that should be open for these kids whenever they want to eat. What do they do if they’re at home and they want a sandwich at night? They walk down to the kitchen and get it. My own son does that at home. Here, under the current rules we have, we can’t.
“The response we get (from the NCAA) is, ‘Well, they can eat whenever, they’ve just got to go out and buy it like a normal student.’ I hate to break it to you, these aren’t normal students. We ask a lot of them and demand a huge chunk of their schedules. They aren’t afforded the time that normal students have.
“Also, athletes do not eat three times a day. They eat – and need to eat – five, six and sometimes seven times a day. We go so hard and train so much that these kids exert and spend a lot of energy. Are we not going to let them refuel? If they want to grab some a snack at their dorm because they’re starving after a practice, we aren’t going to let them because there aren’t snacks at the other dorms?
“Now that school is out and we are able to feed the team while they’re here over the break, my guys are eating a solid three meals a day. They are gaining their weight back and showing more energy. We’re improving as a team for a lot of reasons, but one of them is because we aren’t limited in what we can feed them so they are coming to practice with more energy. They aren’t being underfed like they are during the school semesters.”
Calipari’s final line talks about the money involved in college sports and “yet we’re worried about kids eating a sandwich at night.”
Again, that’s the NCAA at its best. My guess is that if a normal UK student wants to leave the dining area with something to snack on later, he or she can. But apparently an athlete at a training table cannot during the school year but during the semester break anything goes.
How can that be?