FRONDORF: Trading the playbook for the Blue Book

Another shopping period at Yale is drawing to a close, ending two weeks of pre-registration, overcrowded lectures, frustrating seminar waitlists and unintelligible Blue Book worksheets. Yet we should really be thankful for the sheer wealth of intellectual opportunities we have on this campus, because there are some figures in the sports world that could surely benefit from a Yale course or two. Here are my shopping period picks for a few new non-degree students:

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan: PLSC 340 – Leadership, Coordination and Focal Points
The Jets desperately need a leader — a focal point — to rally around after their coach chronically mismanaged the team through a summer quarterback circus, climaxing in the decision to put likely regular season starter Mark Sanchez on the field during the fourth quarter of a preseason game. Tempting the football gods was a poor decision: Sanchez quickly suffered a shoulder injury and will miss at least the season opener on Sunday. Perhaps Rexy would learn that leadership isn’t particularly effective when it seems like there’s a new quarterback under center every week. Maybe he’d also realize that new signee Brady Quinn is under no circumstances what the course description calls a “natural meeting point for … action.”

CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco: MCDB 310 – Physiological Systems
After the NFL and former players agreed to a $765 million settlement last week over claims that the league failed to provide adequate safeguards and warnings about the potential for head trauma, Prisco felt he had to be that one columnist that took the NFL’s side in the matter, claiming that the players don’t “deserve” the money because the former athletes were already aware of the risks when they signed up to play. This is a ridiculous argument, akin to saying that construction contractors can’t be held liable for working conditions that are dangerous beyond reasonable expectation. A contract law course might also be helpful here to learn that the U.S. legal system doesn’t follow a strict code of caveat emptor, but I’ll let Prisco off on the technical stuff. I’m not so lenient when it comes to ignorance of current science. Prisco’s most disturbing belief is that, “The good news is that the NFL, as we know it, isn’t going anywhere.” Apparently blind to the last decade of research about concussions and head trauma, the rigorous syllabus offered by Physiological Systems would bring Prisco up-to-date on the findings that show football “as we know it” must change.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: EP&E 204 – Professional Ethics
Professional Ethics has the notable distinction of being cross-listed in Ethics, Politics, & Economics as well as Engineering and Applied Science, but none of that matters to Johnny Manziel, who continues to demonstrate behavior that is neither “professional” nor “ethical.” The drinkin’, fightin’, New Haven Omni-autograph-signin’ Texan clearly needs help learning to live with his meteoric rise to stardom, and perhaps some basic philosophical pondering about decision-making would give him a jumpstart, because that half-game suspension last Saturday obviously failed to rearrange his worldview. In little more than a quarter of play, Johnny Football taunted lowly Conference USA opponent Rice with gestures mimicking autograph signing and money counting and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for celebrating after a touchdown.

The NCAA: MGT 695 – Nonprofit Organizations Clinic
Johnny Manziel is more than a few credits short of becoming an adult, but that doesn’t absolve the Manziel-“punishing” NCAA from being the most hypocritical “nonprofit” organization this side of the College Board. Jay Bilas’ summer finding that the NCAA sold player jerseys through its online store despite its regulations against using player names and likenesses for commercial purposes was just another bullet-point in a fact pattern that shows the numerous ways that the association takes advantage of its so-called student-athletes instead of promoting their best interests. In fact, I’ll go ahead and sign the NCAA up for MGT 695 in the spring as well, because I don’t think they’ll be able to handle the course material the first time through.

Dennis Rodman: EAST 212 – Politics in South and North Korea, PLSC 111 – Introduction to International Relations, HIST 422 – Human Rights in History
Any of these will do. Rodman should actually just enroll for the entire semester, because Tuesday’s news that the former basketball star has returned to North Korea for another “basketball diplomacy tour” demonstrates that Rodman is going to need a lot of repetition to understand why exactly the majority of the developed world doesn’t see Kim Jong-un as the “awesome kid” Rodman thinks he is.

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