“People often ask me, “Why do you ignore college basketball?” Really? That’s like asking a vegan, “Why do you ignore cattle farms?…Why wouldn’t I ignore college basketball? They just round up the usual suspects every year, and, believe you me, these people are awfully suspect. The game is rotten at its core; it’s only cheating if you get caught, and if you get caught, you’re only liable if you’re losing.”
—- Sports columnist Norman Chad, on why he doesn’t follow the NCAA basketball tournament.
To which I reply, “Exactly.”
As Chad notes in his column, big-time college basketball is pure dribbling corruption. The players are exploited and tossed aside, few of them graduating and most leaving with little real education. The athletic programs warp school priorities and eat up institution resources that should be devoted to the curriculum, the typically coaches are paid more than any three faculty members combined, and they teach their charges that cheating pays. Continues Chad in his inimitable style:
But the players don’t bother me – they are like cattle, used for two percent milk and tenderloins until their services are exhausted. It’s the coaches that bother me – the See No Evil Hear No Evil Do No Evil Block/Charge No Evil shim sham flimflam riffraff sitting on the bench in those fine suits with their fat wallets.
Jim Boeheim? A bum. John Calipari? Bum. Rick Pitino? Bum. Roy Williams? Bum. If these fellas are earning big paychecks from institutions of higher learning, institutions of higher learning must be in a different business than they once were.
Boeheim and Co. run the whole shooting match, and no matter what they do, you can’t run ‘em out of town unless they miss March Madness three straight times. Which brings us to Larry Brown. He’s at his third college coaching stop – UCLA, Kansas and now SMU – and he’s three-for-three for NCAA infractions. If there were a Recruiting Violators Anonymous program, he’d be John Calipari’s sponsor!
And yes, it bothers me that President Obama goes out of his way to endorse this cultural crack. His rationalizations are no worse than anyone else’s—“But it’s only once a year, everybody does it, and it’s fun!”—but colleges are obscenely expensive and doing a terrible job at educating, the obsession with high-profile basketball is part of the problem, black students are disproportionately harmed by the system, nobody seriously disputes any of this, and he’s the President. How brave, productive and transforming it might be if instead of choosing brackets, Obama publicly condemned the corrupt system that turns educational institutions into the the NFL’s and NBA’s minor leagues, and called for immediate reform.
Nah—why be a leader when it’s only once a year, everybody does it, and it’s fun?
No, college basketball isn’t as reprehensible as football, where fans become accessories to the maiming of healthy young brains for corporate profits, but that just makes it the perfect embodiment of Rationalization #22: “It’s not the worst thing.”
It’s true, it’s not as if NCAA basketball kills anyone….you know, like the NFL.
It just corrupts everyone and everything connected with it.