A few weeks ago, I saw Damarious Randall playing basketball at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. I had meandered my way up to the SDFC track that overlooks the basketball courts, and after my first lap I realized who exactly the dude balling out in the Green Bay Packers shirt was. Marcus Hardison was there too, along with some players I assumed were current students at the university. They were all chopping it up, NFL'ers interacting with mere mortals as if they were had never left Tempe. For all the glitz and glamour of the NFL, these guys were back here, with the people that cheered for them before their jerseys were available for purchase.
I spent the rest of my run wheezing (that had nothing to do with being starstruck, I just have poor endurance). As a writer who often covers the team, I was obviously intrigued by his presence there, but also as an ASU student it genuinely meant a lot to see one of our own come back home.
A month later, it's that image of Randall palling around with the guys that makes the reality of his Wednesday outburst that much more sobering. While the details of the incident are still unclear, reports are that Randall was denied entrance into the SDFC Wednesday, prompting his Twitter (and later Periscope) rant trashing the University.
Asu might be the worst school on planet earth ...— Damarious Randall (@RandallTime) April 1, 2016
I don't need to post any more of the hate Randall spewed over social media. There were more tweets (many later deleted), and multiple quotable bits from his time on Periscope, all accomplishing nothing but further angst and confusion amongst Sun Devils everywhere.
For something so shocking to come from a player who had actually just gotten a giant ASU pitchfork tattoo on his arm a couple of weeks earlier, it had to be a justifiable sentiment. Right?
The problem with this whole situation is Randall shouldn't have been ever let into the SDFC in the first place, even if it's "one-third" of his current gripe. Because of how large Arizona State's student population is, the SDFC has to set up basic ground rules for admittance. With intramural sports going on just about every night as well, every weight, hoop and treadmill is a wanted commodity.
Now if you want to talk about how ethical it it to shove as many students on one campus as Arizona State does in Tempe, that's a different conversation. But the SDFC has to set up basic rules of admittance, and calling them basic is an understatement. If you're a current student who pays tuition and is enrolled in classes, you're able to get in, no sweat. If you're not a current student enrolled in classes, you can't get in unless you pay a guest or alumni admittance fee. Simple. Over last summer, I was only able to get in because I was taking summer courses even though I'm a full-time student in the fall and spring. That's the case because an athletics fee that goes towards the SDFC's expenses is part of the tuition you pay. So essentially if you're not taking classes and still go to the SDFC, you're stealing a gym membership. It seems oversensitive, but it applies to everyone, and that includes Randall.
Some football-loving attendant at the SDFC must have started letting Randall in out of pure admiration for what he did on the gridiron for ASU, and it appears that evolved into Randall developing the ego to think he deserves admittance every time. That's grossly incorrect, and whoever at the SDFC decided to finally stand up and say no does deserve commendation.
What Randall hasn't learned in the NFL yet is that working hard for what you have doesn't entitle you to everything that other people have. By reacting the way he has, Randall's alienated himself from the ASU fanbase that so vehemently supported him throughout his college career and his first year in the NFL. Following a university policy that - while stingy, is fair - does not equate to disrespect for alumni.
Randall could've reacted like a mature adult and found somewhere else to get some shots up, but rather he trashed the university that gave him a degree and a platform to launch himself into the NFL.
He hurt his fans, hurt his own reputation and hurt anyone who's ever considered ASU to be dear to their heart. No player that treats a community that supported him that much with such vitriol deserves continued support. Randall started a social media fire with his comments, and in turn burnt more than just bridges to a basketball court.