I owe the title of this post to Scott Van Pelt of ESPN, who used the phrase a couple of days ago on his radio show. (I am fascinated by the interchangeable spelling of the color (or colour?) grey/gray.
And maybe that’s the point…who knows what shade to paint college athletics anymore?
For those of you who read my posts and don’t know a thing about collegiate sports, I would think you can’t possibly help from hearing others discuss them…or seeing things within mass/social media in your daily routines…to conclude college athletics today are nothing more than, a) a giant revenue-producing biz which is experiencing daily revelations (i.e. scandals) of just how many people are making coin off the biz that should not be (according to the “rules” in place) and, b) a giant revenue-producing biz which engages in daily debate about changing the “rules” in place to calibrate where all the coin should and should not be funneled to going forward.
There have been so many accusations and admissions of “rules” violations in football and men’s basketball in the last few months if a blogger tried to link you to all the stories in question their host server would crash. No one really knows what cheating is anymore because cheating is obviously standard operating procedure. You have to dig really hard on the Internet to find anyone in these sports pounding on their chests right now saying “at least WE do it the RIGHT way.” Heck, even if there was one collegiate program out there that thought they were not providing their athletes extra money…or non-monetary favors currently not in favor with the rules…they wouldn’t try to promote that fact…because they just don’t know.
No one knows what is going on in college football or men’s basketball right now because the horse has left the barn…money is the great corrupter and there are just too many participants in the development and decision-making of college recruits/athletes these days…high school coaches looking for an incentive or even a job, leveraging their relationship with a top recruit…the parents with their hands out looking to capitalize on their talented children…the “life coaches” (i.e. agents) some of these kids have been provided just to decide what college to attend (and I use attend loosely)…the pro team agents waiting to get their hands on these athletes before they’ve even played a college game…the coaches at the schools who have to win or else…the athletic directors who have to have the coaches win or else…the presidents who have to have the athletic directors and coaches win or else…and of course…the athletes themselves.
There is no point in breaking down all these stories coming out daily now about financial and moral corruption in college football and men’s basketball. Just enjoy the games and try to block out the noise. It does not matter if ultimately someone decides these athletes should get financial compensation or not (aside from their scholarships…and let’s not talk about the ROI from graduation rates please…). It won’t stop people wanting more money – that’s just life.
Ironically, while the justification continues participants in these sports should get extra compensation because of the money being brought into their universities, the cuts of men’s and women’s sports programs is relentless. I believe I saw a number the other day that since 2007 there may have been as many as 250 men’s and women’s programs in other sports that have been slashed off the budgets of our hallowed institutions of higher learning.
At one time, the growth of football and men’s basketball was said to be providing for the welfare of college athletes in these “minor” sports…allowing them to have a well-rounded, full, complete educational experience via athletic participation. Well…then why are these two sports continuing to rake in more money than most NATIONS while colleges and universities can no longer “afford” a baseball…or soccer…or field hockey…or volleyball team?
Ralph Nader recently called for an end to athletic scholarships. Food for thought…but after this post, I swear I’m gonna just focus on enjoying the competition…and leaving the soap opera of college athletics behind for good…no matter how someone chooses to color it.