Beware the Lies of March (Madness)

deflated basketball

Don’t worry, this isn’t a whiny, frothing rant on the shitty state of the sports world. No . . this is a whiny, frothy rant on the shitty state of college basketball.

I used to be a fan of college ball back in the day. Back when players stayed in school all four years. Back when conferences made sense. Back when fundamentals mattered more than gangster posing and preening and three pointers and slam dunk highlights.

This isn’t to say that players shouldn’t make the jump to the NBA if they possess the skills. Hey, if you can make baller money . . go do it! But this is to say that the pillars of the sport- Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Mike Krzyzewski- have failed their young charges. Miserably. Not the one tenth of one percent who end up playing at the next level. They have failed the ones who won’t. But since those kids aren’t where the money’s at, no prob.

Rail on all you want about John Calipari being shameless. Damn the basketball factory he’s running at Kentucky, but yanno what? He is the only one who ain’t lying. And most of his starting lineup actually will get drafted by an NBA team. So there’s that.  See, all the rest of these coaches love Calipari, because he’s the punching bag for their transgressions.

This didn’t just happen overnight, mind you. It happened over decades and decades, as the money got bigger and the priorities of these institutions of higher learning became increasingly narrow and subversive. How else to explain how it is that many taxpayer funded schools wantonly recruit athletes with rap sheets . . recruit athletes from the other side of the world . . hire coaches in order to ‘bribe’ recruits into playing for them.

Why doesn’t someone ask Jim Boeheim how he got out from under the Bernie Fine scandal? Why doesn’t someone ask Jim Calhoun how, if he loved his kids so much, he could leave them and his school holding the bag when he walked away from a litany of transgressions, unscathed? Why won’t someone ask Pimp Daddy Rick Pitino what he’s smoking when he boasts of always having run clean programs? And why in the blessed fuck doesn’t someone ask Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to be real, or at least try? When Izzo says he won’t answer any non-basketball related questions in fairness to his players, why doesn’t someone ask about the women and the girls? Was it fair to them? Every single fucking question he is asked should be about the women and the girls.

And now we get “March Madness”- the most over hyped production since Waterworld, and every bit as anti-climactic. How else to explain a tournament where every single ‘upset’ is a subjective enterprise? I mean, a committee seeds the teams, which is overwhelmingly subjective. And then, when a nine seed beats an eight seed, everyone screams UPSET!. The truth of the matter is there are very few true ‘upsets’ in the tournament, yet we are led to believe it happens all the time and every year. It’s nonsense, perpetuated by networks who buy the rights to televise this tournament for a shitload of money, after which they lord over the NCAA. The tail wags the dog, and the tail is big money that leads to more corruption, which leads to the next scandal. After which the NCAA will get tough by taking wins away from a school, titles too. But it won’t change a fucking thing, because the system is built for cheating.

I know exactly one thing about this year’s tournament. My son’s school (Penn) is slotted as the sixteenth seed in some regional . . somewhere . . Whoville or Buttfuckswana who knows? What I do know is that these kids- all of ’em- will be pulled out of the classroom to go play tournament basketball for days, maybe even weeks at a time. Not that the high profile athletes have to worry themselves with missed class time, unless they want to be students. The academics are optional for too many of these kids, and the sad fact is that too few of these kids will make an NBA roster, so yanno . . a college education is kind of important.

The Penn Quakers will be playing the number one seed Kansas Jayhawks. The game will most likely be over before halftime, and Kansas will probably make another title run because they’re a minor league basketball team whose integrity as an academic institution now runs a distant second to being a basketball power, since that’s where the money is.

The Penn kids will be just fine, and who knows . . maybe a few of them will even be representing the Kansas kids before too long. Either as player/agents or in a court of law. Harsh, sure. True? Absofuckinglutely.

I’ll fill out a bracket in which I guess my ass off, but I will not watch a minute of the tournament. Because college basketball doesn’t need me, they already have their money.

Maybe it was always going to be this way. Maybe college basketball was destined to be a runaway train whose allegiance to the almighty dollar over every single other thing was gonna happen regardless. Maybe it was always destined to crash and burn in the same way Bobby Knight’s coaching career did, after one too many bad grandpa acts. Come to think of it, Knight is symbolic of college basketball- a high profile bully whose boorishness was overlooked because winning games mattered most. Knight was the literal bottom to a bottom line that honors winning games over all else. I wish Bobby Knight would’ve tried his act on the wrong person, just once. Because he didn’t need kudos and applause. What he needed was a good ass kicking.

So too, does his sport.

38 thoughts on “Beware the Lies of March (Madness)”

  1. YEAH, and how is it Michigan St. plays its first round in Detroit, and NC plays its first round in Charlotte? Those selection committees definitely play favorites. But…I’ve got to go make my picks. Honest truth…I started doing them last night, got to something like the second round, and realized I was doing picks from 2017 that were still sitting on the desktop on my computer. It had Michigan St. seeded something like 8, and VA something like 6. And finally it dawned on me…this can’t be right. It’s crooked, but I do like basketball.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The scheduling of these early round games doesn’t bother me so much, seeing as how they want to garner interest locally by showing full houses on TV. What killed me is when the Big 10 played its conference tournament in NYC! I mean, no one in New York gives a fig about college basketball really, and certainly not Big 10 basketball. But . . it was all about TV money. The TV peeps dictated that whole thing and the conference was more than happy to collect, even if it meant less interest locally. And they played that tournament like a week ahead of the other conference tournaments, which killed the buzz as well. Wag the dog.
      I LOVE basketball too. Funny though, my love of the sport has switched up over the last couple decades. I used to prefer college ball to the NBA, but now it’s reversed. Because if I’m gonna watch paid basketball players, I’d rather watch next level stuff, lol.
      And I too will fill out a bracket, because it’s fun as hell. And my bracket will probably be busted in the first weekend, but so what?
      Crooked? Yes. As hell. And it’s not going to change any time soon. You can’t fight City Hall . . .

      Like

  2. B,

    I am by no means a fan of college basketball. Truth be told, not a fan of college sports of any kind that seem to have such a rabid following (My cousin and college football. Oy!) I shake my head and wonder to what extent the grades of these players are important and you’ve just put the kibosh on that. What happened to that feel-good story of “The Blind Side” (yeah, I know, it was FOOTBALL) but still, didn’t they push the fact he had to have good grades? And I know, it was probably romanticized big time and he probably had more “help” than what we see…

    Just like religion, college sports is big business.

    Very well ranted, my friend.

    Oh, and man. Good thing it says Jewel and looks like Jewel but she sure doesn’t sound like Jewel on this tune!

    Q

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quebec,

      No self respecting Canadian girl cares about college basketball, lol. And you are a proud and upstanding member of Les Habitantes . .
      Yes, The Blind Side did its fair share of embellishing, but the message remains solid. These kids NEED a college education, seeing as how the overwhelming majority of them will never play at the professional level, and if they do, a large majority of them won’t last very long. It’s incumbent on these head coaches to at least . . at least, put them in a position where a degree, a real one, is possible. Granted, it’s not their jobs . . their jobs are to win games, no matter what they spew about “student athletes”, they are really just there to win games.
      Religion and college sports . . big business. You speak the truth, sistah!
      And yanno . . if I had to go before a grand jury to defend John Gotti or “Aw Shucks” Roy Williams of UNC . . Imma go with Gotti. Because that dude ain’t lie . . he was what he was.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bronx,

        Well now hang on there… there are some rabid Canadian girl fans out there, I’m sure of it. And yes, Les Habitants will always be my team!
        Of course these kids need an education. Not only are the chances slim of going to the Show, if they do, that career is short-lived; after that, an even slimmer group will make is as coaches or commentators. Then what? Sure, they’ll make big bucks and be able to retire IF they are smart about their money and – if they are anything like on the show “Ballers” – only a small margin are smart enough to not blow it all away.
        I think we could go on and on with this one, amigo.
        I have to agree. Go with the honest one…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I never said you Canadian chicas ain’t hardcore about your sports. College basketball only less so . . but that’s plenty understandable.
        The kids who are supposed to matter- the true student athletes- usually are not highlights on ESPN, unfortunately. The coaches are thrilled these kids actually put in all that time to make sure they get an education, but let’s just say it’s not at the top of their to do list.
        Yes, we could go on and on with this one, amiga!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I am sure there are one or two out there 😉
        I don’t think it will change any time soon, unfortunately.
        And yes, we could!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I just made a da da comment, and there you go with a familiar da da comment. It’s familiar because of the de and dum, so thank you for that!
        One mysterious da da song in my head is plenty ‘nough!

        Go shots!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, hey, hey … go easy on Waterworld. Sheesh.
    What is happening in the NCAA in both basketball and football strongly suggests they should just do away with the college version of the sports and start real minor league systems for the professional versions. Just like the minor leagues in baseball. Colleges could keep playing the sports for the true student-athletes. Of course, that will never happen because of the money colleges are making.
    The problem in basketball is that the system has really destroyed both college and the NBA. Players get to the NBA long before they are really ready and the talent and skill level of the league continues to drop every year. Some of those draft picks who wash out after a couple of years — I wonder what would have happened if they had stayed in college (or went through a minor league system) for a couple more years and worked on their skills.
    I know very little about the college game anymore, having lost interest long ago … but, time to go fill out my bracket!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Waterworld WAS to easy, wasn’t it? Yeah . . I should’ve tried a ‘lil harder . . I could’ve come up with something else.
      We’ve debated the NBA many times over, and the one point I give you each and every time is that too much of the young talent that makes it to the next level ain’t ready for the next level. For every Kobe and LeBron, there are way more kids who just will not cut it at the next level simply because their progression will be stunted by not having gone through the process at the college level.
      Money. Money. Money. It’s the tail that is wagging the dog. These college programs are run by sneaker companies and networks who tell them when and where. And these coaches talk about class time and then they go off on week long road trips, global jaunts and month long tournaments . . all in the name of getting paid. Over all else most times.
      Bless the kids who are real “student athletes” because they did that on their own, with little help from these big name coaches who don’t really give a fig about their futures.
      Fill out that bracket!
      I have Penn upsetting Kansas in the first round only because of my son. No chance in hell, of course. Bracket busted!!!

      Like

  4. As the great Cyndi Lauper once said… Money… money changes everything… I’ve never really been a fan, but I feel your pain. And as for Waterworld, at least that most horrible of movies gave us the amazingness of Smeat, for all time. College basketball can’t say the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said Tara!

      Yep, college basketball, aside from no longer having a soul . . never, ever, ever had Smeat. They had Dennis Hopper, but he was a fictional character so it doesn’t really count.
      And they never had Dennis Hopper pitching Smeat to his mateys . . so really, college basketball is even lamer than I imagined . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I so agree with you, Marc. I never liked basketball, but like other sports, it has become a mess. Why get an education when you will be a star? Don’t you know the coaches all have one priority? Keep their hefty paycheck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sad but true, John.
      Dale mentioned college football as being similar in terms of the institutional corruption, but I don’t feel the same way about college football. Probably because, unlike basketball, it gets slammed all the time. People are in on the joke, they get that Alabama and Florida, et al, are factories whose only concern is winning games.
      College ball gets off most times. And college ball is made up of all these used car salesmen who shill for sneaker companies and really don’t give a fig about what is in the best interests of the players.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, this has been able to fly under the radar. Because Izzo has a name recognition that is important to the brand known as MSU.
      It’s funny how history just keeps repeating itself, and no one seems to have a problem with it.

      Like

  6. I can’t wait for the broadcasters to tell us that the players are “student-athletes” and how they’ll be right back in class on Monday. Ha! They probably don’t even know where their class is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul,

      Amigo, you are preaching to the choir! Yes, the announcers will talk up the “college experience” that has no doubt proven invaluable to big name players with dreams of next level kaching. And like you said, how many of these kids really care about the experience so much as they concern themselves with the springboard?
      I don’t blame the kids. Hell, at nineteen I would have been ALL In with that kind of scene . . if I could have played a lick, lol. But it serves no good purpose for the majority of these kids who will never play in the NBA. They’re being setting up to fail, in the name of big money.
      Thanks for the chime good sir!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. College sports is big business …. no … correction …. really big, big business. The announcers my love the Cinderella’s who step up to beat the big boys, but the execs can’t like it because they know who that impacts viewership – thus the bottom line.

    I like college basketball … and college football … but the big money has soured me – no question … but I’m still going to watch and root for the Bearcats … and the Musketeers too! … but not my undergrad alma mater … after all, this is the 50th anniversary since their last appearance in the brackets!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cinderella almost always turns into a pumpkin after the first weekend. Butler and VCU were anomalies to a system that thrives on perception.
      The small schools have a theoretical chance to win but realistically it’s incredibly slim.
      I like college football because even though there’s plenty of crap going on there, eligibility requirements allow for a little more familiarity with players.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. ‘Gangsta’ posing. You nailed that one. I’m of an age where Pete Maravich was the bomb (yes, I am ancient) so all the media preening by today’s athletes makes me want to urp. And not just where b-ball is concerned. Which probably explains why I’m a hockey fan. Besides, chicks dig scars (almost as much as seeing good guys visiting sick kids in hospitals). 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, for some reason the media LOVES the gangsta pose when it comes to our athletes. It is damn near impossible to find a cover photo that DOESN’T show an athlete showing the requisite scowl.
      As for Pistol Pete, he could shoot the red off a traffic light. What a player.
      Hockey is legit! I should pay more attention to a sport that has none of the nonsense.
      Thank you for the chime, as per. .

      Liked by 1 person

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