Thursday, October 23, 2014

The National Pastime

And no I don't mean baseball, even though we're in the midst of what might be a real interesting World Series. I mean the national pastime of pretending that college athletics is not riddled with fraud and cloaked with lies from the top of its (mostly empty) head to the soles of its $300 sneakers/cleats/whatever footwear. This is all over the news today:  
Tarred Heels: For 18 years athletes at the University of North Carolina have been guided into classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies which do not meet, have no professors, and give A's and B's to everyone, especially football and basketball players. The theory is that no one in the University's administration knew this was happening, and no one above the rank of water-boy in the Athletic department had a clue either.
OK, so a prestigious university--it was invariably described on TV news as one of the great paragons of learning in the US--has been cheating by falsifying the academic attainments of its athletes at least since 1993. So what else is new? Can you tell me with a straight face that you think the majority of college athletes are "student athletes"? As in, working for a degree while they play sports? Can you honestly believe that these coddled providers of unholy amounts of revenue for their schools are not in some privileged and special category when it comes to anything academic, such as classes, tests, grades, and GPA? You think UNC is the only place something like this is going on? And that everyone in university administration or with the least bit of connection to the athletic departments in all these schools doesn't know what's going on? [Insert audible derisive scoff here.]

The thing that gets me is, this fiction that these largely underprivileged kids are "in school" while they're playing football or basketball and probably other things too (but the big money-makers are the ones named) is embraced (I cannot believe it's believed) by millions and millions of people. Its one of the great lies that's gained national assent and it takes its dishonorable place daily among a number of other lamentable nationwide delusions.

We are a doomed people.       
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