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  • Rick Whitlow

Tail Wagging The Dog-College Sports


Could not help but notice college football has started it's season. The University Of California-Berkeley opened it's season against the University Of Hawaii. The game was played in Sydney, Australia. Yes, you read right. Sydney, Australia. How does that happen? Think about it, the game was played on August 26th. If I were an incoming freshmen, I would have played in a college football game before ever having attended a college class. There seems to be something seriously wrong with this scenario. Definitely the tail seems to be wagging the dog and it is not just this sport, and it did not just start this year. College basketball is no better. In recent years there has been a phenomena called "one and done." It is when a five star, blue chip high school star goes to college for one year, then at the end of the season usually in the month of April declares their intention to pursue a career in the NBA. Thus called "one and done." In most cases the player never had any intention of attending college for four years and it is his right to pursue his profession at any point he chooses, but in this "one and done' scenario, a player only needs to stay eligible for the fall semester. Then spend the spring semester preparing for the NCAA tournament, and the NBA draft. This happens at Kentucky every year, the coaching staff at that school simply goes out and recruits a new crop of "one and done' players. So often many high school and first year college players are not either mentally, or physically ready or able to compete with the grown men that reside in the NBA. That difference shows up really quickly once they step on the court. It is also the reason the NBA talent balance has taken such a beating. It has become a league of haves and have nots. Some teams rosters are filled by players who should still be honing their skills in college. The early college football schedule and the one and done scenario is a cycle fueled by economics, greed, television money and corporate America. A lot of administrators, coaches, and university presidents are making a lot of money on the backs naive teenagers, who have a hope and a dream. Most of these young men will never play in either the NFL, or NBA. I have always been one that believed the way to bring about change would be that right around the bowl season football players went on strike. Then a few months later just before March Madness basketball players joined them on the picket lines. That would shock this corrupt-selfish system to it's core and change would happen in a lightening fast manner. When I speak at athletic banquets I always enjoy telling the story about a President at a high-profile well known football factory stood up in front of boosters and alumni and said.." I hope you will be generous, dig deep in your pockets, because it is important that we have a university that our football team can be proud of." WHAT!!! I kid you not true story. A Freudian slip? No, I think not. It was probably a rare moment of stark honesty. Football and basketball pay a lot of bills, and salaries on campus and also pay the tab for non revenue generating sports. It has become a tail so big that it not only is wagging the athletic dog but at many universities it is wagging the academic dog. I'll wrap this up by sharing another university president story. Once when asked why the football coach made so much more money than other well respected and accomplished professors. His response was something to the effect of - When the day comes that we can sell 90,000 season tickets to people to come watch a student take a chemistry, or history test, we will consider changing our salary structure. But until then expect no changes. Again the tail wagging to dog. Enjoy the upcoming seasons... Notes, quotes, and a thought or two.


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