Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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Reactions to Ohio State’s Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson (and others) opting out of the Rose Bowl are interesting and diverse. One asked, how did we get to this point? It’s not that hard to figure out.

Within twenty four hours of Bruce Hooley’s Wednesday column about Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Haskell Garrett, and Nick Petit-Frere opting out of the Friday’s Rose Bowl, the emails starting arriving, the texts starting showing up, Facebook got hot, and Twitter began to tweet.

“The thing is, I bet 99.99% of the readers here have never been in these athletes’ shoes, therefore have no merit when expressing their opinions. It’s more than an individual perspective, it could very well be a family matter,” Jordan wrote, via Facebook.

Another wrote: “Everyone is entitled to say what they want, but to call these kids quitters is not right.”

Another: “To jeopardize generational wealth is a lot to ask of anyone. Fans maybe the selfish ones to ask so much of an 19-22yr old for one game.”

Another went Biblical: “Esau sold his birthright for a mess of beans because he was hungry. Why should anyone be surprised?  This is the state of our world.”

And: “Please strike the brotherhood business from all future Ohio State propaganda,” wrote Alex.

Yes, this is the state of our world…the world we live in. A world where some would gladly forego their last $20 on the way to the grocery to stop at the casino and maybe, just maybe parlay their last dollar into $100. If it works out, it was an act of courage. If it doesn’t…another vestige of ‘the man’ getting in the way.

It’s a world where education means nothing to athletes compared to the prospect of playing for cash – cashing in quick – for the 2% who get that rare and cherished opportunity. The other 98% can do it the time-honored and old-fashioned way. “I’ll get mine,” while you work your hands to the bone for the rest of your life.

There’s a lot of discussion this New Year’s Eve about the future of our world, starting with the future of things we hold more close and personal than climate change and that everyone gets treated equally.  As a person who writes sports I’ve turned a deaf ear to many of the ‘opt-out’ stories because of my personal view on investment that makes life better, longer.  I’m a history student, and I’ve read more than the average person.  It’s always worked that way – the tortoise and the hare story – and it manifests itself in one form or another with everything we do.

I planted a peach orchard a few years ago, a fact that went unnoticed until this past summer when I had a bountiful crop of the best fruit imaginable. Suddenly, people started showing up, inquiring – wanting a few if I had ’em to spare. “You can do it yourself,”  I told one.  “It’s not that tough.”

“Oh, I don’t want to be bothered with all that, I just want some now,”  his answer symbolic of the short-term mindset.

Nothing has really changed during the 2,022 years in which we’ve been here.  We’re really not created equal, like Lincoln said, when you consider ambition, commitment, and determination to succeed. For 2022 years some have always done better than others.  Some make better choices.  Some have better commitment than others.

And to that point it bothers me more than four football players skipping the Rose Bowl to protect their athletic futures…that the family unit in our country continues to deteriorate through lack of commitment.  It also bothers me that those so dedicated are ‘privileged’ compared to the lives of those condemned to an environment of crime and poverty.  Somehow, making the choice to live with less, and separate – to invest in a longer future – is so out of step that it’s looked upon as being a ‘sellout’.  And the fact that some make better choices that spring them to better lives is just ‘unfair’.

Which in my own reasoning is the genesis of how college athletes come by their way of thinking.  Many come from a background of believing that investment doesn’t work – that commitment is for chumps – that planning for a rainy day doesn’t work because it hasn’t worked for my family, my community, and my needs.  I just know that I need what everyone else already has.

A clergy friend who enjoys golf once shared this with me.  He said, “Eternal life starts much earlier than when you die.  And while you think you have a lot of time for do-overs, there are no mulligans for most things.”

To the part about all of us being equal, we’re equal in this respect.  Like Esau, thousands of years ago, if you’re hungry there’s that temptation to sell out the future for a bowl of beans right now.  But, give a guy a fish…or teach him how to fish?

Woody Hayes taught a class at Ohio State, and in it he frequently mentioned that the older you get the more your life can haunt you.  Are you educated?  Are you prepared?  “That’s your responsibility,”  he’d say, and why you’re at Ohio State.  Today, he’d get laughed out of the room if you asked him what he thought about transfer portals, about skipping the Rose Bowl, or whether growing up in a two-parent home was a privilege.

Guaranteed, this time next year no one will even remember who skipped a bowl game, like no one remembers who won the ‘Powerball’ drawing.

But those trees out there in the orchard?  They’re gonna’ bear fruit for a long, long time.  That’s how education works.

That’s how investment works.

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