My reaction to the whole Michigan practice thing is sorta meh. It's much less informative to say that team X is doing Y, than comparing that program in context to peer institutions. I'll reserve judgment on the specifics, although the whole "voluntary" workouts bit is another piece of NCAA-imposed head in the sand nonsense. They're voluntary, if you don't care about playing in the fall. Either the NCAA needs to grow some teeth when it comes to enforcement, or stop playing loosey goosey with the rules and encouraging non-compliance.
Coincidentally, I just read a book over the weekend partly about similar vacillation about "amateur" status in the Olympics. It just serves to remind sports fans of the complete, active leap of faith required to overlook some of the seedier and relatively commonplace aspects in the shadows.
Americans revere athletic excellence, competitive success, and it’s more than lip service we pay; we vote with our wallets. We’ll pay large sums to watch a truly great athlete; we’ll reward him with celebrity and adulation and will even go so far as to buy products and services he endorses.
But it’s better for us not to know the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so very good at one particular thing. Oh, we’ll invoke lush clichés about the lonely heroism of Olympic athletes, the pain and analgesia of football, the early rising and hours of practice and restricted diets, the preflight celibacy, et cetera. But the actual facts of the sacrifices repel us when we see them: basketball geniuses who cannot read, sprinters who dope themselves, defensive tackles who shoot up with bovine hormones until they collapse or explode.
Anyway, just a thought.