Archive for college basketball

Hopefully this is the last time I talk about this

Posted in college basketball, college football, NCAA, sports with tags , , , , on August 23, 2013 by cueball

Amateurism is dead, smothered by NCAA commercialization. Yet, NCAA drags it around like it’s in a bizarre remake of “Weekend at Bernie’s.” – @JayBilas, ESPN Basketball Commentator Jay Bilas via twitter

How did I end up here?

I, like most people who love college sports started out believing in the sanctity of the NCAA and the current college sports model.

I love reading and writing and I believe in the concept of education as a good unto itself.

College football and basketball is a part of my Saturday’s and has been for as long as I can remember.  Back in the ancient times before the explosion of ESPN I remember waiting for the Jefferson Pilot introduction to start with the pilot himself on his boat in his yellow rain slicker.  That always meant the start of college football or basketball for the day was at hand.  The voices of Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian are still ingrained in the football loving part of my brain.  I am a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and a devoted fan of all of its athletic teams.

Yet, I sit here right now hating the NCAA and what it pretends to represent.

The first cracks in my blind devotion would come with the Fab Five.  This is a fascinating group of players.  On one hand they actually won nothing, yet they are more famous the then teams that beat them to win national championships and Big Ten Championships.  On the other hand, they were the first athletes to openly ask, “Why does everyone else get to make money off me except me?”

My knee jerk reaction at the time was the same as many now, “You’re getting a scholarship.  Shut up and be happy.”  However, the seeds were planted and I didn’t wholly believe what I was saying.

Then the slow drip, drip of all the television contracts, coaches contracts, “one and done” rules, etc. washed away the improvised splatter of “amateurism” the NCAA keeps trying to paint on itself to protect its revenues.

One of the arguments you will often hear by defenders of the NCAA’s status quo is that the huge CBS/Turner contract is split between all the NCAA schools and all of the teams in all of its sports, so it doesn’t equal that much money per school per team.  However, I look at it differently.  Having to split that money between so many athletic departments means that you have to protect what little revenue you have at all costs.  In this case that means making sure you don’t have a huge expenditure line of paying players eating into those revenues.

I think it is clear that the current system is going to collapse in on itself sometime within the next 10 years.  A system where the group at the top gets all the revenue and the group at the bottom who does all the work gets compensated in tuition and housing yet can’t get an outside job or use their own name to make additional money seems unfair because it is.  Coaches can quit and go to different schools with no repercussions as long as they can pay the buyouts, but a player leaves to go to a different school for whatever reason has to sit a year, unless granted a waiver by the powers that be.  Additionally, schools who claim poverty when asked to pay their “student-athletes” a living wage better not have a coach making millions of dollars.

Again, if the system seems unfair, it is because it is.  If we were still in a time when all the money surrounding college sports was solely the province of outside agents than the NCAA holding the line for amateurism would be more acceptable.  However, you can’t sell a jersey with a player’s number on it and then claim that you were only selling the team and the individual.

How many #50 Tar Heel jerseys were sold before Tyler Hansbrough matriculated to Chapel Hill?  Now, I love Rich Yonacker, Cecil Exum, Octavus Barnes, and Brian Bersticker as much as the next Tar Heel fan, but the school wasn’t moving a whole lot of merchandise with 50 on it when those guys wore the number.  The NCAA getting caught using the names of players as a search parameter for jerseys on their website was humiliating for them and funny for us, but it was at best a symptom of a failed system built upon a manufactured belief system with no basis in reality.

Advertisements

It Is No Longer A Game

Posted in sports with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by cueball

 “Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game.”

North Dallas Forty

First, I love college sports.  I went to UNC Chapel Hill and have loved college basketball since 1982.  It is a part of my DNA.  Second, I believe in education for education’s sake.  I think you education opens your world to many things, some of which can’t be measured by money.  I certainly disagree with the current governor of North Carolina that universities are glorified vocational schools.  Having said that, over the last year or so I have come to believe that, barring a complete dismantling of the current structure of college sports, college players should be paid in some form or another above their grants-in-aid.

Notice, I did not call them college athletes or student-athletes or any other Orwellian term coined to hide the fact these are indentured laborers.

If coaches weren’t becoming millionaires and athletic departments weren’t basically for profit businesses and conferences weren’t billion dollar corporations, athletes would be regular students who used their God-given abilities to get an education.

However, the world where this is true no longer exists for football players and college basketball players.

The fans, the media, the coaches/administrators, and the athletes all view sports differently.

Fans sometimes think of the football team or basketball team as the university and forget that there is an institution of higher learning supposedly represented by those teams.  The attitudes of many of these fans is a paternalistic (and maybe something else) attitude that the athletes should just be happy to get the opportunity to play for Old State U and their legendary god-like coach.

Media members are caught in a maelstrom of loving the sports and most of the people involved in the sports and watching a ridiculous system lurch towards its own demise.  Most of the coaches and administrators are good people caught trying to make this lurching, belching, and dying system function in some semblance of logic.

Then there are the athletes who remind me a quote from the book Dune:  “He who can destroy a thing has the real control of it.”

Should athletes be paid above their scholarships?  In the strictest sense, no they should not.  However, when the highest paid state employee of many states is the head football or basketball coach of a state university maybe they should.  When EA Sports and the NCAA make money on video games using the likenesses, jersey numbers, the athletic profiles, and statistical profiles of players from the immediate past and sometimes still active, but then claim they aren’t using that player’s likeness because they changed the name, yeah the athletes probably should get something for their troubles besides having to write a paper on Beowulf.

We are passed the “should stage”.  Once the NCAA v. The Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma case was decided and schools/conferences could control their own television contracts, the floodgates opened.  Money is flowing to everyone except the individuals upon whom the whole system is based.  It has taken 20 years, but those individuals are starting to understand their power in this situation.  They are starting to understand that without them the system may not collapse, but its value will be greatly diminished.  Now that, that is happening the whole system will change regardless of what the decision is in the O’Bannon case.

College sports is no longer a game, it is a business and like most businesses with shady labor practices it will have its reckoning.

Day 6: A Digression

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by cueball

Yesterday was a good day of writing.

That’s all I have today.  I’m making progress.  I’m making a lot of progress and things are looking good to finish in on time.  The book and the ideas are coming together much better than I could have thought possible.  The compressed timetable is aiding in this I believe.

The main thing I’m worried about now is that I’ll finish the story before I get to the 50,000 words.  That’s a good problem to have I think.

In other news, last night an interesting thing happened on Twitter.  In the closing seconds of the second Final Four game, a Syracuse player Brandon Triche, was called for a charge to effectively end Syracuse’s chance of winning the game.  Twitter immediately erupted.  At least all the college basketball writers I follow on Twitter erupted.  First, came all the ones who in watching the play in real time thought it was a charge (me included).  Then came all the ones in real time who thought it was a block.  Then after CBS showed the replay from three different angles, in slow motion, ten different times came the people who changed their mind one way or the other.

That tells me the referees made the right call.  Triche was slightly out of control and careened into the lane where he ran into a Michigan player who may have been moving slightly.  It looked like a charge to the naked eye and the refs don’t have the luxury of slow motion replay at three different angles to make that call.

What is more interesting is the nature of Twitter says that everyone has to have a definitive opinion on the play.  Either the refs were right or they blew it.  No one, at least not very many, had the brains to say, maybe it was a charge maybe it wasn’t the ref made as good a call as possible at the moment.  No, either the ref is an idiot or he isn’t.

That black and white dialectical approach to life, the universe, and everything is why while I am on Twitter I don’t participate in it fully.  I see too much gray in the world to treat everything as definitive.

Anyway, on to today’s writing.

Day 5: The Road Is Being Laid Out

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by cueball

“It’s like driving a car at night.  You never see further then your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow.

Yesterday was another good day of writing.  It was a little harder then the day before, but it was still good. I made lots of progress towards.

An interesting thing I’m starting to find is how much work the unconscious mind does in my writing.  This is the part of art that has often been attributed to magic or something outside the artist, but I contend it is the unconscious mind working when you don’t notice it.  My mind continues to work to make the connections that become the structure and spine of the novel when I’m doing other things.  That is the only way I can explain how the structure of the book has come to be.

When I started writing Monday, I had no structure or any real organizing principals for the novel.  I only had an idea of what it was going to be about and the majority of the main characters.  In the short time I’ve been writing I have filled in many of the blanks on how to tell the story and what the major events are that I’m aiming the characters towards.

It is as if mind said, “OK.  We’re working on this novel.  This guy has no idea where this is going or how to get there.  Let me take all this information and structure it for him so he can get through this with as little pain possible.”  So, your mind takes all the books, movies, and television you’ve read and watched before.  It sorts through what you liked and didn’t like, what you thought was cool and what you thought was stupid.  Then it sorts through the stuff most like what you are working on now and creates a structure for the conscious part of your mind to work within.

Another simpler way of putting it is if you have done your prewriting work in developing your characters and figuring out where you want them to end up, your mind fills in the road map.   The thing is, you can’t figure out that road without writing.  All the outlining and brainstorming and character development descriptions are not writing.  They can be very important and point you in the right direction, but the writing is its own living breathing thing.

At least that’s how I explain it.

This is why college teams should not use uniforms to attract recruits

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2013 by cueball

As a college football and basketball fan, I often hear someone say how all these uniform changes are great because they attract recruits because they are cool.  First, most of the uniforms aren’t cool.  Cool is classic and never really changes.  Blue jeans will always be cool.  Second, changing your uniforms in order to change the minds of 18 year old American males is a slippery slope that leads to this:

I Just Started Putting Words On The Page And This NCAA Post Happened

Posted in NCAA with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2013 by cueball

This is a strange morning.  I really have nothing I want to write about.  By this time most mornings I have come up with some angle, sometimes half-assed, to allow me to pontificate about something going on in the world or in my life.  The only thing mildly interesting to me is the continuing saga of the NCAA vs. Miami.

Unfortunately, we are in the name calling, posturing portion of this show.  On one side is the usual arrogance and hypocrisy of the NCAA.  They figure out that their investigators broke their own rules in investigating Miami and actually release a report detailing most if not all its missteps.  However, unlike the responsibility they place on head coaches for knowing what their players and assistant coaches are doing at all times, the top of the NCAA is spared any blame for this mess.

On the other side, you have a school, who has a booster, who is in jail, caught providing athletes with prostitutes, strippers, swag, and money as well as “helping” coaches recruit.  Those coaches then lied to NCAA investigators.  Of course, Miami basically claims this was all a setup and they are being railroaded by the big bad NCAA.

This is a case where a shady cop catches a known criminal, but in the course of the investigation violates about 40 evidentiary rules letting the criminal get away with his current set of crimes and allows the criminal to act as if he is as pure as the driven snow.

This leaves the rest of us trying to decide who is worse, the bumbling crooked cops or the unrepentant pimp.  Actually, that sums up all the major cases the NCAA investigates.   You have NCAA Enforcement which is staffed for the most part by good and dedicated people who unfortunately have been charged with enforcing what rules that are often contradictory to the concept of common sense.  They are usually chasing coaches, boosters, and various hangers-on who see the NCAA rules as either an impediment to be conquered or an inconvenience to be ignored.

One of the arguments some sportswriters make when discussing the NCAA, its rules, and the enforcement of those rules is that they like schools who ignore the rules because it shows the hypocrisy of the rules surrounding amateurism.  Now, I may be recent convert to the idea that the rules of amateurism are an anachronism created as a way to avoid paying taxes and salaries, but you can’t ignore them if you are a member of the NCAA.

If you are a member school of the NCAA you have 3 choices: 1) Follow the rules, 2) Try to change the rules, 3) Blow up the whole system.  You can do a combination of 1 and 2 and maybe 2 and 3, but you can’t do 1 and 3 together.  Either try to change the rules from the inside or foment a complete revolution and blow up the system.  I hope someone does try to lead a charge to rip the NCAA asunder   The resulting chaos would be pure comedy gold.

If/when this whole thing blows up (I see you BCS/playoff system/whatever your name is) it won’t just be the schools and conferences involved.  Their television “partners” will also have a say in this mess.  With that much money comes the fun idea of watching schools within conferences openly backstab and betray each other.  Again, comedy gold.

I think the NCAA is in its death spiral.  I just want what happens next to at least be fun to watch and talk about.  Because right now, it’s just annoying and sad.

Real Madrid v. Manchester United and Duke v. UNC Diary, Part 2

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by cueball

8:42

Pregame pint will be Highland Brewing’s Devil’s Britches IPA.

As for the game it will probably be a comfortable Duke win, but if UNC is still within one possession at the first TV timeout of either half, the game will be close.  Either Duke wins by 20 or it comes down the last possession.

8:56

First surprise of the night, Devil’s Britches uses Calypso hops a different profile then I’m used to in IPAs.  Must get used to it.

Second surprise, PJ Hairston in the starting line-up.

9:10

I don’t know if I really enjoy Duke/UNC games.  Too much nervousness.

9:17

1st TV time out 9-6 UNC.  Things could be fun tonight.

9:27

Lads playing well right now.  Duke has recovered and is starting to play well.  The next 4 minute period will tell a lot.  If UNC can keep up their momentum in the face the coming Duke run, this will be fun all the way down to the wire.

If this is a close game, cogent analysis will be hard for me to come by.

9:55

Exhausted after one half.  I need a beer.

10:22

UNC slipping now.  Duke has made a run and UNC looked a little lost on the last couple of possessions with Duke’s defensive intensity increasing.  In the next 4 minutes, Duke could take complete control of this game.  UNC has to respond out of this TV timeout.  Must get the ball inside with the elder Plumlee sitting on the bench.

10:29

Yep, saw that run coming.  Paige takes a horrible shot which leads to a Duke 3.  For once though, Roy calls the timeout to stop the run.

10:36

At the pacing around keeping away from breakable objects point in the game.

11:14

Well that ended badly.  Not a classic of the rivalry, but a tight game.  It resembled a mud fight for the most part.  Roy did a great coaching job tonight.  Everyone wanted to see what the small lineup would do for an extended period.  Against a team like Duke it works really well.  I don’t know if anything UNC could throw at Miami would work.   Game was decided by the inability to hit free throws.

Time for another beer.  See you in the morning.