On Snakes, Rats, Weasels, and Canes

There is an awful lot of righteous indignation floating around college football lately. A man spending the next 20 years of his life in federal prison for fleecing investors out of more than $900 million says he gave some money and benefits to some Miami Hurricanes over the last 10 years. I’m not interested in talking about what did or didn’t happen. I’m not interested in confirming or denying the spiteful ramblings of an insecure snitch with an inferiority complex. I’m interested in talking about hypocrisy.

I want to talk about the hypocrisy of the NCAA and, by extension, its constituent school administrations; the very people that have enriched themselves so shamelessly on the backs of the kids they’re soon to righteously delight in punishing.

First, a little background: I had it easy at the University of Miami, and it often felt like it was too much to bear. I had an easier time in class than most of my teammates, and far less was expected of me on the football field. I went to school on academic money and I played football because I wanted to and because I had played my whole life, not because it was the only way for me to get through school or make a better life for myself and my family. I can’t speak about what it’s like to be a high profile recruit, an All-American, or a future NFL star and the pressures such statuses entail. But I can tell you this: college football is a grind.

The NCAA says players put in twenty hours a week. Anybody who has spent any time around a college program knows that sixty is a better number. Then add twelve to fifteen hours a week of class on top of that. Seventy-five hours a week, in exchange for a stipend mathematically designed to make your ends almost meet.

The president of the NCAA makes more than $1 million a year. Any head coach worth his salt is making two or three times that. Talking heads at ESPN/ABC/CBS and the presidents of most major institutions join them in the seven digit salary club.

That’s what this is really about, and people have to understand that. Why is it a problem for AJ Green to sell his jersey when the NCAA sells 22 variations of the very same jersey? Why can’t Terrelle Pryor get some free ink from a fan? Why don’t people react the same way to that as they do to hearing that Peyton Manning is selling phones for Sprint or that Tiger Woods gets paid $100m to wear Nike gear? What’s the difference?

The difference, as far as I can tell, is that the NCAA has done a wonderful job duping people into believing this multi-billion dollar a year industry is pursued for the sake of amateurism. It’s a total sham. The coaches aren’t amateurs, the administrators aren’t amateurs, the corporate sponsors and media companies that make hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the backs of these players aren’t amateurs. The only “amateurs” involved are the guys doing all the work. Pretty nice racket if you can get it.

The NCAA and ESPN are going to be telling you that some great kids are scumbags because they allegedly broke rules designed to keep them poor and implemented by people making money hand over fist. An ESPN shill in a $5,000 suit is going to ask you to morally condemn the kids who provide the framework for said shill to make enough money to afford that suit because those kids might have taken some free food and drinks. They’re going to be called “cheaters” despite the obvious fact that boat trips don’t make you run any faster or hit any harder.

Oklahoma gives Bob Stoops $3 million a year and nobody blinks. A car dealership in Norman gives Rhett Bomar a couple hundred bucks and everyone wets themselves. Urban Meyer sat on TV this very day, making approximately $1,500 an hour to sit there and flap his lips, and was asked to judge a bunch of 20 year old kids for allegedly accepting free food and drinks and party invites.

Is that immense delusion intentional or do people actually not realize the hypocrisy they perpetuate?

What’s that you say? The rules are the rules? I call b.s.. When the rules are propagated by the very same people they’re designed to benefit, I say the rules must be independently justifiable. What is the justification for saying that AJ Green can’t sell his jersey? That he won’t be an “amateur” anymore? Doesn’t the scholarship itself render him no longer an amateur by any objective definition? Doesn’t the fact that Georgia spent hundreds of millions of dollars advertising itself to AJ Green render him no longer an amateur? Doesn’t he stop being an amateur when UGA promises him that his career at Georgia will net him NFL millions? Doesn’t the fact that millions of dollars change hands thanks to the service he provides make him not an amateur?

Is it because athletes should be treated like other students, lest they not appreciate the “college experience?” Other kids get to sell their belongings, don’t they? They get to go to parties and drink and throw themselves at women, don’t they? They get to have jobs and earn their worth, don’t they? And other kids don’t spend sixty hours a week having their bodies broken or their spring mornings running themselves to death in the dew in the dark.

It’s nonsense. Unmitigated, indefensible nonsense. The players are “amateurs” for the simple reason that they’re cheaper to employ that way. What is bad about giving a poor kid some money to spend? What is wrong with showing your appreciation for the service someone provides by giving them some benefit of their own? I’m supposed to believe it’s wrong because the NCAA says it is?

These players are worth far more than a free trip to the strip club and a trip around the bay on a yacht. AJ Green is worth more to the NCAA and the University of Georgia than the cost of his jersey, and Terrelle Pryor is worth more than the value of a tattoo.

I don’t know much about players taking “illegal benefits,” and if I did I wouldn’t be snitching about it like a lowlife, but I can tell you this: I hope to the bottom of my soul that every player in America is on the take, because they’re getting shafted. The powers that be make too much money this way to ever change, and the rest of the country seems far too committed to delusions, institutional partisanship, and jealousy to see their own glass houses, so take what you can get while you can get it, youngbloods. You earned it.

Source : miami.247sports.com