When Tennessee's senior day was coming up last fall, there was a heavy debate on whether Eric Berry would be allowed to do senior activities since he was all but going to the NFL. My stance was NO! He wasn't a senior and shouldn't be allowed to do it.
Okay, now that Patrick Patterson is facing this in two weeks, I want to examine this question. My take on this is yes, Pat is a senior, albeit not a four year senior but a three year senior. To me that means even more. He has forgone many normal young man stuff to get his degree and he will be earning a degree for the university.
I think he should get to do the senior stuff on senior day. Just because he didn't go to UK for four years doesn't mean he should be penalized for it. He is getting a degree and deserves to get the recognition. He has meant a lot to the University of Kentucky. Not many athletes of his caliber even get a degree much less do it in three years. I think he should get to do it. Now of course there is still the question of whether he comes back, but honestly ... he doesn't need to.
[Added by Truzenzuzex]
I think Tenken makes some very good points here, and this subject is worth debating. After the jump, I will lay out the arguments for and against.
- Patrick Patterson is an academic senior. Is senior day only limited to players with no athletic eligibility left? That would seem passing strange for a university that holds academic achievement allegedly in higher regard than athletic achievement.
- Many players before Patterson have been honored after only three years, back in the years when freshmen were not eligible.
- Jared Carter is one player, and there may have been more, who was acknowledged on Senior Day with at least potential eligibility left. It was theoretically possible for UK to have gained an extra year for Carter merely be asking for it. But significantly, they did not do so and had no intention of doing so. Carter could not have asked for it on his own.
- There is no support in tradition for honoring players with actual eligibility left on Senior Day.
- Patrick Patterson certainly means no more to this program than Jamal Mashburn, and he was not so honored. The argument for Patterson's importance to the program is non-sequitur, because there have been many important underclassmen (Rex Chapman and Jamal Mashburn just to name two) who have not been honored.
- What if Patterson came back? Would he be asked to sit out of Senior Day, because he already had participated in one, or allowed to stand for two? Awkward.
- Tradition is important, and making exceptions cheapens tradition and makes it less meaningful.
Let the debate begin. Thanks to Tenken for raising the issue.