COLUMN: Students on spring break suffer an unfair reputation

Monday, April 18, 2011 | 12:00 p.m. CDT
The players on the Gatorade Cooler Talk team include Brian Nordli, Vinnie Duber, Rob Givens and Matt Kane

Editor's note: This team-written column is one in a series of five about spring break, all written from a different life perspective.

While many college students use spring break to head home and recharge their batteries, that's not what the week off is best known for.

Meet Gatorade Cooler Talk

Four sports enthusiasts take a break from talking gridiron and hoops to focus on other world issues. But, you can take the fan out of the sports, however, you cannot take the sports out of the fan, and these guys look at the rest of life from behind their catcher’s masks. They wear their hockey pads and basketball shorts to a political debate and discuss issues you might talk about around the water cooler – or in this case, the Gatorade cooler.

Vinnie Duber, Rob Givens and Brian Nordli all have experience covering sports for the Missourian. Matt Kane covered public safety for the Missourian. Duber is currently a copy editor at the Missourian, and Nordli is a former copy editor.

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The reputation of college kids and spring break is one filled with never-ending debauchery. Supposedly, binge drinking and tiny bikinis replace cram sessions for tests and research papers. Group meetings take on an entirely different meaning. Spring break is just a weeklong party on our nation's coastlines that earns the scorn of people older than 30 whose college days are behind them. But, are college spring breakers getting a bad rap?

It isn't quite the behavior that catches the rolling eyes of the over-30 crowd. It's the age.

College-age students are labeled as rowdy spring breakers simply because they're in college, as if the wild and crazy stigma comes with the student ID. Just look at the rookies who compete in professional sports alongside the grizzled veterans. If a young baseball player boots a ground ball, or a fresh-out-of-college quarterback throws a few interceptions, announcers say, "That's a rookie mistake." Their poor performance is blamed on their age. Likewise, if a first-year point guard leads his team to the playoffs, he did it in spite of his age. No matter what the rookie does, his age is a factor.

These automatic assumptions are unfounded. Whatever happened to a rookie just being better than most other players in his or her respective league? The same goes for spring breakers. There are plenty of college kids who head home for spring break and do nothing that anyone would consider wild or crazy. There are also plenty of older adults who party. But you never see a story about a pontoon full of 35-year-olds who got busted by the police for playing their Duran Duran too loudly. That's because these individuals list something other than "student" as their occupation.

It might be going too far to say students don't deserve the judgment they get, but let's see the judgment go both ways. As young athletes should be judged on their performance rather than age, college kids should be judged by their individual actions, not the stereotype.

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