Thoughts On What We Talked About Last Week Because of Sports

Each week I’ll give my take on some of the things we all talked about In sports.


Happier times between college basketball and Mark Emmert (second from left). Also, this now never happened so I don’t know what he’s clapping about.

*This will usually be posted on Monday’s. So happy Tuesday.*

-NCAA’s Recruiting ‘scandal’

– Mark Emmert doesn’t get it

– Kim Pegula almost gets it

Breaking News: The FBI discovered that NCAA basketball has a recruiting “Black Market.” In other news, the sun is hot…

I am going to openly admit that I know absolutely nothing about the inner workings of the FBI and how they should, or should not, allocate their time and resources. Now that that’s out-of-the-way, putting them towards the NCAA’s self-inflicted recruiting black market doesn’t seem like something that needed the FBI to investigate.

Qualifier time! No, all schools do not cheat. Yes, there are lots of coaches who operate within the NCAA’s rules. No, I’m not saying the programs that did cheat were right for doing so. But be honest, did it really shock you to hear that major college basketball programs with multi-million dollar television deals, world-class facilities, and coaches vying for the next multi-million dollar contract are doing whatever it takes to swing the best talent in (and out of) the country? Are we really going to be ‘disgusted’ and go back to that blame it on an ‘entitlement’ generation when this has been going on for as far back as the 1970’s? If you are, well, may I kindly ask that you stop kidding yourself?

Let me point out the basic reality of what the NCAA, major universities, and major networks (Yep, the networks that televise the college sports we all love to watch have a part in this, too.) won’t (*clears throat*): elite athletic talent is worth more than the financial confines of a scholarship. If it wasn’t, the FBI wouldn’t have to wiretap some “runner” from a sports agency you’ve never heard of to record a conversation between him and the head coach of the University of Arizona. Or Michigan. Or Duke. Or insert-other-major-college-team. If the NCAA (and the federal government for that matter) are so concerned about this then just do what the NBA, NFL and other professional sports leagues do and pay the players what they’re worth. At the very least allow them to profit off of their likeness.

Oh, but amateurism. Right. Yeah, you’re preaching to the wrong crowd with that one. I’m of the opinion that if some kid wants to go straight from high school to training camp with Kam Chancellor or Steph Curry he/she should be able to do it. Because college isn’t for everyone, just ask anyone who started a social media platform. That isn’t to say that the college system can’t work, but it’s beyond time to allow players a real alternative to going to a campus if they do not want to. And, no, I’m not talking about sending them overseas.

If not, well this song and dance will continue to happen. May even get worse. Because with higher stakes (television/coaching contracts, administration salaries, big budget facilities) comes the same pressure to produce as any other business. And with that pressure comes… well, you get my point.

Speaking of getting it, Mark Emmert continues to not get it

Not a great week last week for Mark Emmert and the NCAA. But, hey, March Madness is coming!

When NCAA President, Mark Emmert, speaks I try not to listen as it might make my head hurt. But, Emmert had a lot to say about college basketball’s ::cough:: NCAA! ::cough:: seamy recruiting/agent problems:

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules.”

Phew. Mark really went in. Did you catch the line about those people who “engage in this kind of behavior”? That was nice. Too bad for Emmert that this all comes back to the  organization he runs continuing to foster a system that is ripe for this kind of activity. All for the days of what once was… which was a lot of the same. Emmert continues to conveniently ignore how antiquated NCAA rules are. He also continues to operate as if college sports should be the only (minor league) game in town. As much as I love college football on Saturdays, I realize that playing in Clemson, South Carolina or Fayetteville, Arkansas isn’t in the best interest of everyone involved. Namely the athletes who don’t want to be there in the first place.

Also, don’t be fooled by Emmert’s ‘outrage’ in those comments. Especially when he had so little to say about disgraced Michigan State University/USA Gymnastics Doctor, Larry Nassar. I mean if there were a time for a stern talking to, that would have been it. Instead we got this:

“I don’t have enough information [on] the details of what transpired at the school right now,” Emmert said via ESPN. “That’s obviously something that the university itself is looking deeply into. You hear that testimony — it just breaks your heart when you look at it, but I can’t offer an opinion at this time. It’s clearly very, very disturbing, and I know the leadership there is equally shaken by it.”

I don’t know how much more information he needed other than 250+ impact statements, Larry Nassar getting sentenced to 200+ years in prison, and everyone knowing Michigan State University took their own sweet time to reach out to female athletes about what happened on campus. But, sure, some kid got his food paid for by a guy he’ll eventually be working with anyway.

Kim Pegula said the right thing, but also said the wrong thing.

Kim Pegula is co-owner of the Buffalo Bills.

Kim Pegula, co-owner of the Buffalo Bills, took some time last week during a panel she was on at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston to give her opinion on players’ protesting police brutality and inequality. A lot of it had merit:

“My own experience, I think a lot of it is just communication,” she said on Friday, according to ESPN. “I know that’s easy to say. But I know that several of our players, when I actually talked to them and actually gave them a different perspective — just like they were trying to give us a different perspective — on the impact of the business and what the impact is of what they do socially, off the game, at home and then how that affects the business side. They didn’t grow up in the sports business world. They came in on the players’ side.”

Mrs. Pegula was good all the way up until the last two lines.

“They didn’t grow up in the sports business world. They came in on the players’ side.”

Open dialogue is good. Communication is great! Saying they didn’t grow up in the sports business world, while simultaneously being a part of the system that limits their every business move is where we need to clean it up a bit.

Also, I don’t know if anyone has told her, but the ‘players’ side’ is a kind of important aspect of the sports business. I do love the nachos, though.

Agree? Disagree? Want to talk about something? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @dacubbage

Also be sure to check out seasons 1 and 2 of the Because of Sports Podcast on iTunes



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