That was the theme I saw developing with much of the early coverage when it was announced that Justin Combs, son of music mogul P.Diddy, earned a $54,000 athletic scholarship to attend UCLA in the fall.
By all accounts Combs certainly earned his athletic scholarship, achieving a 3.75 GPA while playing defensive back at his high school. It was clearly enough to pique the interests of the UCLA coaches and secure him one of the 285 athletic scholarships the school hands out each year, but apparently not enough for some.
After the scholarship was announced, Combs and UCLA quickly received backlash as headlines began popping up that read, “Should P.Diddy’s son return $54,000 scholarship,” and “Diddy’s son Justin Combs gets full scholarship to UCLA as many students struggle.” In response to calls for him to return the money, Combs tweeted:
UCLA also responded, pointing out that the scholarship Combs received doesn’t even come from state funds:
Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability — not their financial need. Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds. Instead, these scholarships are entirely funded through UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters.
The criticism has since quieted, and Combs has received his fair share of support and congratulations, but the problem of the initial reaction still lingers with me. Lately, there seems to be this pervasive problem in political and social culture that somehow being successful is a bad thing, and that the benefits of your success belong to someone else.
Have we really hit a point in our culture where, because your parents are a success, you apparently have no right to reap the benefits of your own and wholly separate successes? What kind of incentive does that create for our children to do well?