Thursday, April 04, 2013

The sports page

There's big news in the world of college sports this week, and it really opens a window on the nature of big-time college athletics.

First, you probably heard about Mike Rice, the coach of the Rutgers basketball team. He got fired yesterday after video surfaced showing him shoving, punching, kicking, and throwing basketballs at his players, as well as swearing at them and calling them such vile names as "fucking fairy" and "fucking faggot".

Robert Barchi, the president of the university, released a strongly worded statement about the firing.

"Rutgers University has a long and proud history as one of the nation's most diverse and welcoming academic institutions. Coach Rice's abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university's core values," the statement said.

Of course, we also know that the university had the videos of this abusive conduct since at least last November, so when Barchi talks about the "university's core values" I think we know exactly what he means: the desire of Rutgers University not to be publicly humiliated or lose any of its sports revenue.

And are they going to take any action against the athletic director for not firing the coach earlier? No, and for exactly one reason. As they admitted to ESPN, "Pernetti's job is safe" for now because of his prior work on getting Rutgers into a lucrative Big 10 deal last fall.

Stay classy, Rutgers!

Sticking with basketball we have the case of Kevin Ware, the Louisville basketball player with the gruesome tibia fracture on Sunday, the injury that was so bad that the networks aren't even showing the replays of. He had surgery earlier this week, and we're hoping he has a complete recovery that won't interfere with his continuing to pursue his education--er, his career as an unpaid minor league basketball player. This is fortunate, because under existing NCAA rules, if his injury had prevented him from playing he would not be entitled to keep his athletic scholarship.

Every tragedy is an opportunity, though, right? For instance, to honor Kevin Ware Adidas and the NCAA are marketing a T-shirt emblazoned with his number, the Louisville cardinal, and the slogan "Rise to the occasion". You know who won't get any of the twenty-five bucks you have to plunk down to show your respect for Kevin Ware? Kevin Ware or his family. Ever.

If you're still not mad enough at the gross shame and corruption that is big-time college athletics, learn more from this great article by Taylor Branch, The Shame of College Sports, in The Atlantic.

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April 06, 2013 3:53 PM  
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April 07, 2013 3:41 PM  
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April 08, 2013 7:01 AM  

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