Blood Feud: Iowa Vs. Purdue
Over at Purdue, the football team has an annual blood drive in which every player is expected to help out. Note that I said "help out" and not "contribute." Purdue players can have a friend stand in for them if there's a valid reason why they can't donate blood ... or if they're just a little bwauk-bwauk where needles are concerned. (Real classy, Heygood. I got $5 that says Mike Neal lets some 270-pound fullback slap you silly at some point this season.) Still, even with a chicken clause, the Boilermakers' blood drive has brought in a total of 176 donors in the past two years, and every blood donor is valuable. Their value to the people who receive blood is beyond question, but there's a less obvious value which is also worth considering.
We might snicker at the thought that rough, tough student-athletes turn into quivering piles of athletic gelatin when a hypodermic needle gets pointed at them, but then again, how many of us can say we enjoy needles? (Yes, I know: some people on Craigslist.) How many people don't donate to blood drives just because the fear of the needle outweighs the knowledge of the benefit to society? We can learn from these players that even people who aren't afraid to get laid out by strong safeties are a little squeamish about sharp pieces of surgical steel.
It seems to me, as college football becomes a bigger part of the American social landscape, that every team ought to make team-wide blood drives part of their community outreach. Not only will it encourage us mere mortals to at least think about donating, but community goodwill is like a bank account. Wins fill that account up faster than anything, but proving that you're teaching your players to be good citizens surely doesn't hurt.
For the record, the needles they use at blood drives really don't hurt either. Now go beat Purdue's numbers, Iowa, and show them who the best black-and-gold team in the conference really is.