Play the Game Right or Play the Game Well?
I just read this Deadspin article about Bo Ryan’s reaction after Wisconsin’s loss to Duke in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. To sum it up, he is bitter and doesn’t like the NCAA’s trend towards “One-and-Done” players. This sparked a lot of thoughts, so I thought I would share them with you below. In stream of consciousness order!
Trend? Magic Johnson is Michigan State's spokesman and he left school after just two years in East Lansing. The year was 1980.
Most major sports thrive on this clickable, sharable, quotable nonsense. This is why they make coaches do interviews immediately at halftime and after games, mic them up during games, and ask them a million BORING and repetitive questions at press conferences. For more on this, Google “Beast Mode Press Confrence” or “Gregg Popovich’s Best Interviews.”
Bo should be bitter. I think he would make the same comments if his team went out in the fourth round of the NIT, though maybe more humbly worded. Not really an original argument, but it's one that has happened for years and will continue to until the major conferences leave to form a new league.
Bo is also kidding himself about the level of effort some of these "graduates" are putting into their school work. I know antidotes make for narrow arguments, but I have a friend who worked in a UW bookstore and was responsible for handing out graduate materials. A few years ago, one of Bo's seniors came to pick up his gown and didn't even know what his Major Degree was in. This happens at a lot of, if not most, major D1 schools.
Rent-a-player colleges go against the IDEAL of NCAA sports. Since the NCAA is corrupted, I've stopped acting like doing the "right" thing has mattered for a long time. Kentucky just plays the "game" better. The game is not getting caught for illegal things, recruiting, and keeping your stock high. Kentucky does it, Duke does it, Ohio State does it, I'm sure Wisconsin does it and mid major schools like Gonzaga are starting to do it too.
This competitiveness exists in women's sports too, but because it is considered a lesser level of play (not my opinion, but the public consensus based on attendance, tv viewership, money, etc), it doesn't get oversaturated. If it had the same viewership, coaches would feed that energy to their players more. It’s there, just not as highly concentrated, because the "stakes" aren't as high. By stakes I mean things like future earnings from WBNA or other professional leagues. When your options for playing professionally are lower, you might actually see college as a means to other careers and try finishing your degree.
No one complains about tennis, golf, baseball, or hockey players forgoing college or dropping out to go pro. Why do the NFL and NBA get hit so hard?
I don't care much about people exhibiting or not exhibiting hubris. In all honesty, I'd rather have someone who believes they were great being upfront about it, instead of hiding it. Sure, there is a level where it is too much for some people (myself included), but sometimes anti-hubris borders on insincerity. This is my Kanye West Rule. My favorite quote from Yeezus is," If I were to say I'm not a genius, I'd be lying to you and myself." Assholey? Absolutely. Is he right? In my opinion, yes. That attitude and realization is what drives him to be great. I'm sure Frank Kaminsky is a cool dude, but if you think he has less competitiveness or lacks some of the assholey confidence of the evil twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, you are kidding yourself. It’s what helps drive them, whether they are a senior or a one-and-done freshman.
If this all is too much, stop watching. I more or less stopped watching the NFL (I'll check back in more this upcoming year, but my move out of Minnesota will probably continue to keep my Vikings fandom casual), but I doubt that will happen. It's entertainment, part of it revolves around stuff like this. The NFL likes having scandals. Sure, they want better control over them, but the more you talk about the NFL, the more money they make. Same goes for the NCAA.
Oh indeed, Omar. It's all in the game.