The Barometer sees the charts in the newspapers. Charts to be filled out for March Madness, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four. The alliterations are clearly clever. Then there is the language of sportscasters: “Sky-walking with a big-time push.” Until the Barometer got the translation the assumption was that the TV had been switched to the space walk and a drive to finish the repairs.
As devoted as the fans are and as colorful as the shoes seem, there is that ethical cloud that hangs over this college sport. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal provided the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. The players and staff are swiping the rugs from their locker rooms. Bless the NCAA’s heart, they were trying to make things “homey” for the players with area rugs here and there in the locker rooms. The NCAA has no idea with whom they are dealing.
Apart from the banished coaches, the X-rated recruiting scandals, and the bribery, there is the underlying erosion of the original noble goal of college sports scholarships: to provide the financial means to talented athletes to obtain an education. Today, colleges and universities provide future NBA players with a place to park it for a year before they turn pro. They are not in school long enough to even have to worry about grades for eligibility the following season. The academic world is now the farm club for the NBA. The problems with bribery, corruption, and hedonistic behaviors spring from the loss of the original soul and virtue of college sports programs. The NCAA is no longer running the show when it comes to ethics. Their little investigations and sanctions could not handle the level of misconduct. The Justice Department has stepped in with prison time as the punishment because the loss of post-season play or scholarships just was not doing the trick. The schools have adopted the CEO defense when fraud gallops through their organizations: “I knew nothing.” Okay, maybe an assistant coach here and there, but not the rest of us.
When it comes to playoffs and championships, we dutifully fill out the brackets and pretend for 4-5 weeks that none of the terminations, the shootings, the suspensions, and payments to parents matter. There may be corruption, but, man, can those guys play basketball. At least for a year.