Questioning the old guard

By Tom Knauer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 22, 2005

Here at the Wildcat sports desk, the start of a new year brings the obvious questions: Will the football team finally emerge from the Pacific 10 Conference cellar and reach its first bowl game since 1998? Can the soccer team overcome the loss of two key seniors - defender Lindsey Peeples and forward Candice Wilks - and take its first outright Pac-10 championship?

Invariably, the answers to these questions depend on the athletes themselves. More than preening, holdout-happy panjandrums, they're as likely to be seen huddled in a study room at the ILC as poised to deliver the game-saving hit, catch, goal or dive.

This semester, the Wildcat aims to look at both sides of our student athletes. In covering Arizona athletics, we will do our best to exploit a special advantage we have over Tucson's other daily newspapers: perpetual proximity to our sources.

Just as any student could bump into Jawann McClellan and his consorts as they rummage through the Highland Market, we'll write what they bought and why.

Just as many students have had their share of awkward encounters with family friends, we'll look at how some of Arizona's athletes faired on the recruiting trail, with coaches and team officials jockeying for attention from every which way.

We also intend to transcend the simple coverage guidelines established by local media outlets. All athletes being equal, we hope to give the same in-depth attention.

The point is, even at our inherently academic level, the Wildcat has failed along with other media outlets to show athletes as being essentially human.

Though they are subject to otherworldly levels of pressure and discipline, and at times tested before small cities in attendance, Arizona athletes are expected to regularly defy notions of both physics and physical endurance - and get up the next day to cram for an exam.

All of which begs the next question: Why further scrutinize a life many of us clearly don't understand already?

The answer? Read and find out. You just might learn something.

- Tom Knauer is a journalism junior. He can be reached at