Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is Attacking the N.C.A.A. a Head Fake?

January 20, 2012
Guilty Until Proved Innocent
By JOE NOCERA

In America, a person is presumed innocent until proved guilty. Unless, that is, he plays college sports. . . .  [Go Here]
And Nocera feels his tale of injustice requires a second column:
Living in Fear of the N.C.A.A.
By JOE NOCERA
Published: January 23, 2012

It was early in the evening of Jan. 13 when Ryan Boatright, the freshman basketball player at the University of Connecticut, learned that he was being suspended from the team for the second time this season. Earlier that day, he had flown into South Bend, Ind., with his teammates for a game against Notre Dame. The 19-year-old point guard was excited because some 400 people from his hometown, Aurora, Ill., were coming to see him play. . . . [Go Here]
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“The columns," Nocera concludes, "have also prompted e-mails, mostly from parents of college athletes, with their own examples of N.C.A.A. injustices.”

Fine.  Ryan Boatright and his loving, supportive mother, appear to have been subjected to overwrought  abuse by college athletic watchdog authorities   But a few questions about the efforts of Joe Nocera and his Inspector Jarvet crusade against the N.C.A.A. need to be asked.  Some thoughts beyond the relentless pettiness of the N.C.A.A.’s investigative procedures and the personal tribulations of the Boatright’s are in order. Nocera is turning his justice seeking into a vendetta that blinds more than it illuminates.

Why is Nocera wasting his time beating this mean but very lame horse, the NCAA? He drums up misdirected indignation and in doing so deflects attention from the realities of College Sports, Inc.  His exercise is akin to blaming wardens for the bulging populations in their prisons, pill salesmen for the lack of health and safety standards in India's drug factories, and the cop on the beat for the punk kids without jobs or an education who turn to drugs and crime.

It is sad when good kids and their good mothers are done wrong by this small part (the N.C.A.A.)  of a very large corrupt and corrupting system.  But Nocera’s energy and outrage is misplaced.  The foundation stones of the untouchable Big Buck Program’s edifice of the college sports entertainment industry consists of plutocratic boosters, cowed university presidents, witless boards of trustees, and the public's passive support (as hypnotized TV game time couch potatoes, fantasy league fanatics and all around jock sniffers). 

What is ignored by Nocera and most is that college sports have nothing, nada, to do with the educational and research mission of institutions of higher learning.

Nocera, Mr. Boatright's mother, and every college athlete's parent, and every college student  should not be overly concerned with pesky, unfair, outrageous rules the N.C.A.A. enforces with little real effect.  They should ask how many hours does the athlete-student spend in the weight room?  How many classes do athlete-students miss when the team is on the road?  What monies, in student fees and tax support, go into maintaining and growing The Program that could and should  be going into educational resources?  How many elite athletes get scholarships while elite math, language, science students scrape by on loans and part time jobs?

In the end, Nocera is throwing stones into a small and personal pond of injustice.  He feels good about this.  He has chosen an easy target.  He should be aiming at the large cesspool that is College Sports, Inc..

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