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Chase like a champion today

Joey Falco | Monday, October 9, 2006

The non-ESPN national media delights in chastising Division I colleges for their over-emphasis on the latter half of the phrase “student-athlete.” These criticisms have ranged from a recent New York Times piece on the unbalanced spending on athletic facilities at Rutgers University to the annual mockery of the pathetic graduation rates of all top-25 football teams not named Notre Dame to the downright embarrassing class schedules of all former USC quarterbacks named Matt Leinart.

While many of these attacks on America’s universities are undoubtedly merited, there is a crucial aspect of this lopsided treatment at “jock schools” that gets about as much press coverage as the war in Afghanistan. Yes, this devious system of unseen rewards for athlete-students is so sinister and maniacal that even the lofty ideals of the utopian NCAA fail to acknowledge its existence. Like steroids in baseball before the late 1990s and the entire female gender under the Taliban, these things are known to exist but never spoken of, and, for the most part, ignored entirely by the authorities.

I’m talking, of course, about jersey chasers.

Defined by the always-reputable online Urban Dictionary as “a girl that only goes for guys on a certain sports team,” these strumpets of the sidelines get their kicks not by watching an athletic competition and cheering for their peers, but by blatantly attempting to hook up with said peers after their game-day heroism has solidified their greatness in the eyes of the cheering thousands.

At some schools, the primary activities of these institution-of-higher-learning Lolitas are purely sexual in nature. At the University of Miami – the Harvard of south Florida, if you will – former football stars like Tavares Gooden, Darnell Jenkins and our own Greg Olsen achieved cult-sensation status for bravely exposing the lewd and disgusting activities that these jersey chasers often forced helpless athletes into doing in their pseudonymous “7th Floor Crew” rap.

At other schools, these varsity-letter vixens are not always as libidinously motivated, and even waiting outside of a locker room with a plate full of baked goods or doing an athlete’s laundry and homework on a daily basis are frequent forms of acceptable jersey chasing.

Still, the mysterious and underhanded world of jock adulation does not end there. Perhaps the most disturbing cases of this obsession can be found in college classrooms, even at Notre Dame, where the most dogged and determined jersey chasers are not sitting at student desks wearing black mini skirts and red snakeskin boots, but standing behind podiums giving academic lectures. Professors across campus – and particularly in several athlete-loaded classes in the Mendoza College of Business – are famous for spending half an hour on Mondays and Fridays either praising players for their previous week’s victories or gearing them up for their upcoming games. Some go so far as to bring in newspaper clippings highlighting a star player’s performance – as if these constantly glorified individuals did not already realize that Googling their names would yield more than four million results.

Clearly, the fervor and passion with which these sport-star stalkers go about their business deserves greater acknowledgment than that which the traditional news media currently gives them. For that reason, the time has come for the NCAA to finally recognize jersey chasing as an official varsity sport. Perhaps then these adoring fans will at last be legitimized in the eyes of a cruel America who currently views them as the crud of the collegiate cosmos.

Imagine: Scantily clad girls stepping across the mound of lost XXXL hooded sweatshirts on their apartment floors, reaching above their front doors, and slapping a gold “Chase Like a Champion Today” sign before they head out for a night of drinking at the athlete Mecca of Finnegan’s. Sports reporters sending in their ballots every Sunday to decide which school’s jersey chasers put up the most impressive numbers over the weekend. Replay officials analyzing a girl’s pathetic pickup line to a basketball player from an upstairs booth, then throwing a yellow flag after determining that “You can bounce your balls off my backboard any day” is an unacceptable use of athletic sexual metaphor.

Yes, when this great day arrives and legitimacy is at last restored to the recreational activities of these misunderstood students (and professors), all of our lives will surely change for the better.

I already know where I’ll be: sitting at a table in Finnegan’s, patiently awaiting my chance to become America’s first jersey chaser chaser.

Joey Falco is a senior American Studies major and Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor. He can be reached at jfalco@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.