Babies & Bathwater

January17/ 2000

 Most everyone agrees that “Big Time” college football and basketball are getting dangerously close to a critical mass crisis situation.  Canaries in the coal mine like “the Colorado sex scandals” are appearing more frequently.  The “big money driven” reality of both sports is undeniable.  The hypocrisy of the “student-athlete” concept is acknowledged by even the most head-in-the-sand naiveté among us. Could we throw out the soiled bathwater and still save the baby?

   I absolutely LOVE the color and pageantry of major college football.  The whole Saturday spectacle is unmatched by any other sports event, in my not so humble opinion.  The combination of Autumn, a college campus, huge crowds, tailgating, pre-game festivities, et al is simply ‘mah-velous”.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the scenario I just described.

   Heck … I’m even on record as saying two of my most enjoyable football Saturdays last Fall were Carolina’s two most heartbreaking defeats … to NC State and to Duke.  Tied with those two was NC State’s game at Ohio State as chronicled right here.  I can say I “enjoyed” those two thumping by arch rivals because I was with special friends for each.  I have no control over the outcome of games … I DO control how much I can enjoy being with people I find fun and stimulating. Now … a victory for “my team” combined with a day with good friends is a big bowl of banana pudding after a barbecue and Brunswick stew combination.  Yes, I would have enjoyed both the State and Duke games much more if John Bunting had led his team to victories.

   When I am at a game I lose myself in the spectacle and put aside my distaste at the hypocrisy and misplaced sets of values by the institutions as prescribed by the alumni/fans.  

   As much as I rail about the abject stupidity of the “lunatic fringe” of every fan base; I grant those sad souls the right to tie their intestines into granny knots over the failures of “their teams” to validate the fans self-worth.  Before the Internet “street corner” was created most of these loonies suffered in silence … now they flatulate and bloviate to anyone who dares to click on their rants.  Thankfully for the rest of us … we must enter their lair to hear them … “if a loonie goes berserko and no one clicks on his rant, does his head still explode?” … actually I think it does as an ignored loonie is an even more volatile commodity.  But never forget my friends … The Lunatic Fringe is still less than 13% of all fans despite their insistence that ‘everyone thinks like they do …’ .  No, everyone doesn’t.

   It seems that the crux of the “problem” with Big Time college sports comes down to the “student-athlete” concept.  I always ask a simple question on my BobLee ALIVE tour … “who cheats in recruiting?” … the answers are always the same … “They do!”.  “They” meaning our arch rivals and/or the schools that dominate year in/year out.  “We don’t cheat” … of course … but “They do”. That blind to the mirror approach is pretty widespread.

   “Cheating” seems to fall into two areas … (1) illegal tactics in recruiting including offering $$$ and other assorted “lures” to 18 year old prima donnas … (2) getting “student athletes” passed a school’s admission standards that lack even basic junior high academic skills.  

   The NCAA truly means well but has all the muscle of a United Nations sanction.  One death penalty in 20+ years … excuse me!  What SMU did in the mid 80s is commonplace in dozens of schools across the country.  The occasional wrist slapping that goes on has less effect on the unpunished than a teen death from drunk driving has on underage drinking.  “We” won’t get caught.


Swagger’s Stumper

“My Mother The Car” is often used as the quintessential example of a really dumb sit-com concept … which is certainly was.  Who was “the human star” of this notorious clunker?


   Suppose we simply eliminated the “student-athlete” requirement.  Suppose “going to class and even being enrolled” were entirely optional.  Personally, I would feel much better with “hired mercenaries” wearing my school’s colors than buying into the farce that many of them have any interest much less any business pretending to be “students” on a legitimate academic track.  Certainly give them the option … a full scholarship as now defined … or the $$$ equivalent.  In either case they get to live on campus and participate in that “rite of passage”.  A 3rd option (which I REALLY prefer) is enrolling these academic misfits in a local community college’s “trade school”.  

   Under my three options … in exchange for his athletics services, a young man receives either a college education … $20,000/year in “salary” … or a combo of the two thru the “trade school option”.  Now, a small handful of athletes get “a shot” at “the league” … a slightly larger number get degrees (hopefully in marketable majors) … and the rest drift off to the junkyard of broken dreams with bad knees and no marketable skill.

    It bothers me considerably that every school has these “limbo student-athletes” who are one injury away from a dead-end life via a combination of their own arrogant ignorance and a compliant university compromising everything it is supposed to stand for.

   The “bleeding hearts” will say that acknowledging that certain players are “non-students” would be demeaning to them.  Like “falling to sleep in class” on the occasion they actually attend class is not demeaning.  Fellow students and instructors know quickly who these “special cases” are. What is gained by the sham?

    The wonderful “color and pageantry of Big Time college sports” would not be tempered one iota by this acknowledgement.

    Obviously we have not covered this subject … merely scratched the surface.  In future columns we will re-state our jaw-dropping proposal of how to remove the absurd $$$ war in sports.  That is so easy it’s ludicrous. We can turn colleges back into academic institutions AND have our Big Time football and basketball TOO!

“Norm” claimed to be an accountant.

Learned a very important lesson recently … I had not heard from a dear friend for 3 weeks … someone I usually e-chat with several times/week.  I sent 3 “What’s up?” e-mails that went unanswered.  I figured I had really screwed up somehow !!!  So I sent a “I’m sorry, I guess this is good-by” e-mail … Monday I get a cell call … “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT” call from my friend.  His e-mail had been screwed up and he didn’t know it … Don’t get lulled into thinking e-mail is the end all of communication … pick up the phone if there’s a problem.  He and I are just fine … always were … I think hearing from him even helped my hair to grow faster!

One day closer to home … 1/32” of an inch of new hair!

Vince Flynn’s Memorial Day … Get it … Read it!

Pistons in six … Detroit hooligans will then embarrass their city and their state.

I went on a 40 block stroll thru Manhatten on Sunday … highly recommended for observing the human species.

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