NCAA Men's Championship Game - Butler v UConn

Kemba Walker Is Not a Voracious Reader

Apr 14, 2011

First-team All-American? Check. National Championship? Check. Likely NBA lottery pick? Check. Finally read a book cover to cover? Chec… wait what?

Kemba Kemba Walker Is Not a Voracious Reader

I spend a lot of time reading, from websites to magazines to newspapers and books. Granted, I’m a writer and not a basketball player, but I’d like to think reading a book or two is sort of a prerequisite in earning a college degree.

Well, apparently in the case of University of Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker, reading books wasn’t exactly necessary in order to earn the sociology degree he’ll be receiving on May 8th in Storrs, Connecticut.

Throughout the NCAA tournament, announcers drooled over Walker’s crossover, step-back jumper, slashing ability and infectious smile. As a University of Arizona fan, Walker’s never-ending praise annoyed and frustrated the shit out of me, especially when it seemed broadcasters couldn’t remember anyone else’s name. But as a basketball fan I respected Walker’s ability to put his entire team on his shoulders and will them to a National Championship.

However, with each passing game I couldn’t help being increasingly annoyed with announcers continual fawning over Walker’s ability to graduate from UCONN in the span of three years. They must have forgot that major Division I athletes like Walker are most likely taking classes during summer school and winter sessions. By the end of his junior year, he’ll probably have taken the equivalent of four years of class.

Even then I accounted this anger at the announcers as sour grapes. Graduating college in three calendar years is nothing to thumb your nose at, I was just bitter that my favorite team lost by two to the eventual national champion. I finally resigned to the fact that Kemba Walker is a deserving college graduate, and hoped he had a successful career in the NBA – until yesterday.

When browsing ESPN.com I stumbled on a quick post by Diamond Leung citing the recent Sports Illustrated cover story on Walker stating that the point guard recently finished reading his first book – ever. Yes, you read that right, the 21-year-old who will be receiving his diploma in a couple weeks has only read one book cover-to-cover in his entire life.

And in his travel pack is a copy of New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden’s “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete,” a book that Crump encouraged Walker to read as part of an independent study class on racism in sports. Before the Final Four, Crump suggested that Rhoden’s book would be the first that Walker had ever made it through cover-to-cover. After the win over Kentucky, Walker confirmed this. “That’s true,” he said. “You can write that. It is the first book I’ve ever read.”

I understand that plenty of college students don’t like to read and Sparknotes is an easy enough way to skate by without reading entire books. But this is unarguably ridiculous. How can a student graduate eighth grade, let alone high school, without ever reading a fucking book? The tone of this paragraph is even more annoying, it’s as if we’re supposed to be proud of Mr. Walker for having the work ethic and diligence to finish and entire book.

I’m sick of pundits saying these kids should be paid on top of being given, oh, just a couple hundred thousand dollars in scholarship money. They get an invaluable college education for free, something to fall back on when their professional career finishes or their body inevitably fails them over the course of the next twenty years. And they get all of this without the debt of normal college students, and seemingly only a quarter of the academic effort.

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