Truth In Sports

Let’s quit kidding ourselves. Something is awfully wrong with intercollegiate football and basketball. First, those games aren’t even amateur collegiate sports. Why do we keep insisting that they are? The players usually have as much relationship to the universities they represent as do the frogs in formaldehyde in the biology lab. Come to think of it, the frogs serve a more useful purpose.

Of course, the Mike Adamses of the world (Mike Adams is de jure president and de facto athletic director of the University of Georgia) will tell you:

  • Football helps raise money for the school. So does basketball – but not as much.
  • The big sports keep school loyalty alive.
  • The jock stars let the rest of the world know who we are.

Maybe Adams is right on a couple of counts. Everybody knows that even honor graduates in astrophysics contribute more money to UGA when the Bulldogs win. And that 20 Rhodes Scholars aren’t worth one good quarterback in the school publicity department.

Of course, football is a key ingredient in keeping alive school loyalty – except, of course, when those 19 UGA players sold their SEC championship rings on eBay for a pittance. Some loyalty.

As for letting the rest of the world hear about us, basketball and football certainly play their part. Hardly a week passes that some college basketball and football players haven’t been nabbed on narcotics charges. Criminal investigations against college ball players for rape, assault, burglary and robbery have become almost commonplace.

Multimillion-dollar contracts for college coaches are becoming increasingly acceptable, even as public universities cut back on academic scholarships.

It’s high time something was done about this nonsense. No, we’re not suggesting college football and basketball be eliminated. Just changed.

Let’s separate the big sports from the little sports, the ones in which many regular students participate but don’t bring in much cash from TV rights and spectators.

Make football and basketball into separate entities, but let them remain affiliated with their sponsoring schools. Just as Joe’s Pizza Parlor sponsors a Little League baseball team, UGA could sponsor the UGA football team. UGA (or some other schools) could buy the uniforms and even pay the players a stipend to take to the field. The National Football League and the National Basketball Association could foot part of the bill and reap some of the financial benefits. After all, these major college teams are little more than farm clubs for the pros.

The players and coaches would not have any direct affiliation with the schools, except for the advertising on their shirts and jackets. Of course, as an act of generosity, the schools could offer tuition discounts to any players who decided to enroll. The sponsoring institutions also could use the teams to advertise special events and courses, such as quickie MBA programs or Computers for Imbeciles classes.

This is a win-win proposition, as we Big Idea guys like to say. The big universities could still have their teams (just as Atlanta has its Braves), but they wouldn’t have any responsibility for them. If the players won rings, they could keep them or sell them if they wished. If players committed criminal offenses, they could be arrested without having to wake the school president. The NCAA, with all its silly meant-to-be-broken rules, could be disbanded. Georgia Tech could be just an engineering school, and forget about having to get football and basketball players through Tech’s math courses. Think of the neuroses and guilt feelings such a plan would erase among Tech’s faculty. And these are just a few advantages to this plan.

Incidentally, we have submitted our idea in a broad outline to a panel of intercollegiate athletics experts at Rocco’s Sports & Chili Bar. It received the same number of votes as the Barnes state flag.

Categories: Political Notes