Friday, July 18, 2008

Gasp! TV determines basketball schedule

In another indication of how far Maryland basketball has fallen in the eyes of the sports world ESPN announced that the Michigan verses Maryland game in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge will be shown on the backwater, banjo playing younger brother of the ESPN family, ESPNU. The only other game on the "U" is Boston College versus Iowa. Stinkers like Virginia at Minnesota, Florida State at Northwestern and Penn State at Georgia Tech are on ESPN2. I would also suggest that it is no coincidence that the dominant cable TV provider in both Michigan and Maryland is Comcast, which steadfastly refuses to carry ESPNU. ESPN has been trying to force Comcast to add ESPNU to its basic cable lineup while Comcast will only agree to add it to an extra sports tier of programming. As usual where ESPN is involved the fans suffer.

Interesting article on the ACC's website, a rarity I know, on the process of arriving at the conference schedule for every team and the process of doling out the television rights. As if you didn't already know this is a multi-billion dollar business, my friends. Never forget that is first and foremost.

Mike DeCourcy has an article about how former Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings might be making a mistake in going to Italy to play professional basketball instead of going the traditional college route. The essence of the article was how a former college player was stiffed by the Italian club after testing positive for a banned substance (likely a violation of his contract). Boo hoo. As if college players in the good old U. S. of A. are not taken advantage of in much worse ways on a regular basis by greedy head coaches and college programs. At the very least he is entering into a legal contract with this professional club that is accountable as his employer. College players have no such remedy. Jennings route is risky and he is gambling that the lack of exposure playing in Europe and not Arizona will be offset by his reportedly hefty salary this year. Whether he gets to the NBA or not probably depends little on his going to Arizona or Italy. Every NBA team scouts in Europe these days so they will see first hand if Jennings has the skills to play in the league. High school players, for whom the main goal is to play in the NBA, will soon discover that going to Europe first may not be a bad idea. The only thing that has prevented more of this in the past is the people who have a vested interest in the corrupt system of college basketball as it exists and the lack of contacts to make these transatlantic negotiations happen. Coaches and Universities, AAU cockroaches, prep school "handlers", shoe companies, and all the other pigs at the trough stand to lose influence and money if more of these kids take ownership of the value of their skills. The rest of us won't have to be hypocrites and pretend that kids like Jennings belong in college while the vast majority of these prep stars couldn't care less about an education. Instead of getting worthless sociology degrees from places like Duke in exchange for pumping huge amounts of money into the pockets of the NCAA, its member institutions and corporate partners maybe they can get their own share of what their skills are worth on the open market. The kids who honestly want an education won't be effected by this possible trend in the least. For better or worse this system works for golf, tennis and baseball, sports in which the NCAA doesn't have its own racket, and doesn't make an obscene profit coincidentally. There is nothing sinister about what Jennings is doing, if anything there is a refreshing honesty to it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cogent points. Baseball has an effective minor league system, where even college stars (and aluminum bats) have to prove themselves. The NFL and the NBA have free "minor leagues" in the NCAA, with the not unexpected results of the dash for cash. Are there fewer abuses and scandals in college baseball because of this difference? Probably so. NCAA football and basketball are entertaining for sure, but probably have become something that universities shouldn't be about.