GUEST BLOG: JOSEPH BIERWIRTH (@JBIERW)
Here’s the deal. The NCAA is a terrible organization that does a lot of stuff that is objectively shitty. They have a hilarious track record of outrageous suspensions and penalties for things so harmful to the integrity of college sports such as
- Having the courage to make three Oklahoma football players donate $3.83 to a charity of their choice after *gasp* eating more than their allotted serving of pasta at a team banquet.
- Slapping Geno Auriemma with a recruiting violation after calling Little League World Series Star Mon’ae Davis and congratulating her on her success. Yeah we’re talking UCONN Women’s BASEKTBALL coach Geno Auriemma…
- Or when Utah basketball bought a player a plane ticket home which he REPAID to the school to attend a friends funeral, the NCAA stepped in, with their infinite wisdom, handing down suspensions.
We could literally do this all day.
What’s most appalling about the NCAA is their infinite quest to convince the world that they should unequivocally be allowed to profit off of their players by marketing their likeness, image, and brand while they get the pleasure of working a full time job while pretending to go to class. And look, this works for some. There are plenty of instances where a “student-athlete” is able to go to a four year school that they otherwise could not have attended, play sports, stay on the team and seriously get an education. I can point to a million examples of this even from my small north eastern private college where athletes actually embodied the ideal of being a student athlete because, frankly, our sports sucked. And this should continue, this is the part of the system that works.
But for a lot of players, going to school is not part of the plan. For college basketball this is clear as day. Zion Williamson will not be graduating college anytime soon. For a player of his skill and caliber, that is not why he is in college. He’s there because he needs to be there for a year to chase that bag next year in the NBA. And while he is there, Duke and the NCAA are making ridiculous money off of him. And he won’t see a cent of that (besides the duffel bag of cash Jeff Capel definitely didn’t give his father) until he plays his year and moves on. But for Zion, the exposure that he is getting will be intrinsic in his ability to get that Nike endorsement next year. Thing is, not a lot of players are Zion Williamson.
Look at the North Carolina team this year. They were stacked with senior talent. These kids have played for four years and most of them even helped the school win a national championship. What are they gonna have to show for it when its all done?
I fired up the old “mock draft” board on the awe-inspiring 1998 style website NBADraft.net no free ads but this guy is awesome and has been running this site from his Commodore 1000 since Perry Ellis was in diapers.
I miss playing Backyard Baseball on this bitch.
Here’s his draft board
He’s got one upperclassman going in his top twenty, Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga who came from Japan was literally only recruited by Gonzaga and had to grind to prove himself to NBA scouts when he got there averaging only 4 and a half minutes per game his freshman season, 20 his sophomore season. Cameron Johnson, four year player from North Carolina is projected to go in the mid second round. Now, he could turn into Draymond Green or Patrick Beverly or even Goran Dragic and make money playing for many years but its far more likely a mid second round pick ends up out of basketball within five years. Cam Johnson will at least get a shot. But there are so many four year players who never do.
So basically we all know how this works, the NCAA creates this elaborate hoax that they are protecting student athletes, providing an invaluable service to them, and setting them up for success through a combination of sportsmanship, discipline, and a college degree. Well we all know how it actually comes out at the big time programs; kids go to school give it all for their team and get a fake degree having made no legal money along the way.
Lets bring it back to North Carolina, they actually are a prime example of this with a report coming out a few years ago describing how “student athletes” were getting majors in Swahili, literally taking FAKE CLASSES that required no attendance and one paper which some of these players couldn’t even write themselves as one professor described seeing “student athletes” graduating college without being able to fucking write.
So this supposed service the NCAA is offering its scholarship athletes is clearly a joke.
Or is it?
Through all the bullshit and purposeful spin that the NCAA propaganda machine creates on a seeming daily basis, including this outrageous video featuring a PAID ACTOR because their stupid bylaws prohibit and actual athlete from using their likeness to promote a product.
Much more accurate video imo.
What I’ve noticed is, there truly is something different about amateur athletics, especially college basketball. Let’s go back to that North Carolina team. Friday night in the sweet sixteen, North Carolina was upset by surprisingly awesome Auburn. As the second half began, it was clear that Chuma Okeke for Auburn was the best player on both sides of the court that night with 20 points on 8/11 from the floor. It seriously felt like he couldn’t miss and he really didn’t during that stretch.
Then the worst thing that can happen to an unpaid college athlete happened… Okeke got hurt, and would not return to the game.
And then one of the coolest things these eyes have ever seen happened as he was being helped off the court.
As your team is down 14 points, has no momentum, has just been blocked on four consecutive possessions and your return to the Elite Eight rests in peril there’s a lot going through your mind. Somehow, through all this, the entire UNC line up saw a dude who was absolutely cooking them all game go down and their empathy won out. It’s clear that college basketball does create these special moments that are profoundly different from any other sport as these kids grind all season trying to kill the guy across from them. But through this process, the ideals the NCAA promotes to justify their mistreatment of players shine through.
You can see it with the stars too.
Look at Zion here.
So overjoyed his buddy is dunking this dude is tryna touch the roof with his goddamn head. (h/t @NifMuhammadon Twitter for this gem) And apparently it goes both ways.
Here’s Barrett jumping for joy as Zion basically touches the rim with his head, did you know Zion can jump?
But lets break this down a little more. Zion Williamson is easily the best or second best player in college ball this year depending on your view of Ja Morant (mine is favorable that guy is incredible.) Here’s the thing, RJ Barrett shot the ball 270 times more than Zion this year. 270 more times.
That’d be like Klay Thompson taking 270 more shots than Kevin Durant in a two month stretch. Some shit like that in the NBA would tear a team apart. In fact it has, just look at the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder with Melo on the team (#STAYME7O.) Instead, these guys are so happy when the other one dunks they try to jump out of the gym from excitement.
Conclusions. Maybe there is something to be said for the NCAA because the product they create is absolutely special and unique. However, that can still be accomplished fairly and without all the hypocrisy that lies under everything they do and preach. Pay the players, stop pretending to be something you are not. Then, we can all just enjoy watching amazing young athletes choose to be their best selves and play their hearts out with class and dignity… while being properly compensated.