Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Send in the Clowns

The Face of Entitlement and Naivete?

 Today I read a truly nauseating piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by the immortal and puerile William F. Livingston.  While this rambling column was ostensibly a shot at the NCAA (I think), Billy Boy could not but help taking equal shots at a handful of teenagers---both for not living up to Billy's own personal vision of morality and for not being more mature than the middle aged men in suits who run the institutions to which these kids are indentured. 

Basically, Billy was pissed that a bunch of black kids sold their golden panties in order to purchase some body art.  The panties in question (and other assorted paraphernalia), however, were the kids own possessions, awarded to them by The Ohio State University for their excellence in money making.  Legally, they are free to do what they want with them.  But while the kids were free to burn their golden panties, by NCAA by-laws (written by the NCAA for the benefit of the NCAA, with no input from students, let alone from athlete-students) they were not free to sell them.  And so, in a move more blatantly hypocritical and self serving than any I have seen in a while, the NCAA ruled that the kids were suspended for five games.

Not the next five games, however.  You see, the very next game the kids were scheduled to play in was a BCS Bowl game, upon which rested tens of millions of dollars for a number of NCAA institutions.  So the kids were suspended for the first five games of the next season.  That way they could still go out and sweat out enough money this past week in order to pay for the next set of golden panties that Ohio State already had on order.

Meanwhile, another kid playing in yet another multi-million dollar game, Cam Newton, was not suspended at all after it was learned that his father had tried to extort a couple of hundred grand out of any school which wished for the future Heisman winning quarterback to come and earn for them.  The NCAA declared Newton blameless, ignorant of wrong doing, and eligible to keep on showin' them the money.  And how did the NCAA prove that this kid was blameless and ignorant?  Well, because they said so    that's how! 

What?  You need more than that?  You think there might be a conflict of interest going on here?  Well, who the fuck are you    Roy Cohn?

But back to Billy Boy Livingston.  See, Billy Boy did not spend a good deal of his column lambasting the NCAA for it's (possibly illegal, certainly immoral) hypocrisy, but rather lambasting and barbecuing the kids for daring to stain Billy's naively idealistic view of college athletics (upon which view, it must be noted, Billy's continued gainful employment is primarily based).  By selling a pair of golden panties and using the money to by more tats, apparently these young men committed a moral violation (but a legal one, it must noted) so egregious as to drive Billy Boy batty, forcing him to calm his nerves by eating yet another pizza he definitely didn't need.
And that was where I really started to get pissed, boys and girls.

Anyone who thinks these trinkets have any intrinsic emotional or moral value is a person who lives in a past that never really existed in the first place, as in the past this type of pay-for-play behavior not only existed on a far larger scale.  It not only existed, in fact, but it was tacitly approved of by the NCAA and the journalists who covered it.  Today that type of behavior is now publicly frowned upon, although, as we see in these two cases, not always punished.  Or at the very least punished in the most hypocritical and self serving fashion.

The NCAA is making billions off of these kids, then claiming they are "giving" them a "first class" education.  In reality, these players are working a lot harder for their education than most any other member of the student body (and certainly harder than every member of the sports media).  They are putting in 40-60 hour work weeks on top of their school work; which consists of as many basket weaving, AIDS awareness, and History of the Cleat-type classes as the coaches can force the players to take (anyone remember Robert Smith, who quit the team when the coaches tried to force him to drop his pre-med classes?). 

Yeah, a top 10% player in both intelligence and work ethic can get a top notch education while working at his full time football job, but how many college kids are in the top 10%?  (Hint: The answer is 10%).

How many of us could have managed to pull out a top notch education in a difficult and productive field while working 40-60 hours a week and getting pressured to not take classes that will distract us from football?

Well, obviously Bill Livingston could have done it.  He could have been an astronaut brain surgeon if he so wished, apparently.  He simply choose instead to be a ink stained wretch in order to ensure he could protect the moral welfare of us all.  But, yeah, he could have been a rock star/brain surgeon/particle physicist if he really wanted to.  He could have been a real life Buckaroo Banzai, but he sacrificed that opportunity in order to be the moral arbiter of the nation.

That kids today feel no loyalty to the filthy business that is big time college athletics is not a surprise.  Hell, I am 42 and I feel no loyalty anymore to these football factories.  College athletics not only rank at the bottom of the barrel for me when it comes to sports, the NCAA ranks right down there with investment bankers, pyramid scheme managers, pimps, and career politicians (but just above sports columnists).  So the surprise to me is that there are still people out there naive enough to bury their heads in the sand while extolling "work ethic" in one column written out of one side of their mouth, while then trashing these kids' moral compass in a column written out of the other side of their mouth.

By clearing the kids to play in the bowl game, then hammering them with the outrageous penalty of five games in order to cover their rear ends for letting them play in that same money-making bowl game, the NCAA has set itself up as the true evil empire in sports.  The NCAA is the only thing here truly deserving of criticism.  The kids, and to some extent the coaches, are simply caught in between the scuzzy NCAA and their scuzzy partner in crime, the media, whose jobs are all dependent on keeping sports as something the American public will continue to shell out the bucks for. 

As Tom Wolfe once quoted: "No bucks; no Buck Rogers."

So congratulation, Bill.  Way to give up your dignity and your integrity via your ongoing double sided, hypocritical coverage of all thing NCAA.  I hereby award you the P.T. Barnum Award for Conspicuous Moral Buggery.


  1. What do you expect from a 987 year old hack? Guy's been working there since they used to print it by hand. I think you hit it on the head with Change=Bad. He's like Andy Rooney, only, you know, older and crankier.

  2. College sports have so turned me off that I did not even realize I missed any bowl games until I turned on the tube and saw LSU playing on Jan 7th. Actually, I didn't realize it even then, since I flipped it off figuring it had to be a repeat of an old bowl. Finally I looked it up and saw that, yes, bowls were still being played two weeks after New Year's. So I watched the BS Championship a few days later and got what I expected: a sloppy game played by two teams who had not played anyone in nearly two months.

    Yay, NCAA. Way to keep the excitement going. Why not suspend a few more kids and then move some bowls to March?