TELANDER: There’s no end to NCAA’s hypocrisy
BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist February 22, 2014 12:04AM
This undated image provided by Under Armour shows the Mach 39 suit for the U.S Olympic speedskating team. The U.S. speedskating team blamed its poor performance at the games at least in part on their Mach 39 suits that were developed by Under Armour and touted as the worlds fastest speedskating suits. (AP Photo/Under Armour)
Updated: February 23, 2014 2:44AM
Think TV networks don’t drive college football?
Then you probably think it’s an accident ESPN is kicking off its 2014 season by televising Sam Houston State at Eastern Washington on Aug. 23, the earliest opener in 11 years.
That’s great for couch potatoes, but it’s not so good for defenders of football as an extracurricular activity performed by amateur ‘‘student-athletes.’’
Consider that classes don’t start at Sam Houston until Sept. 8 or at Eastern Washington until Sept. 25 — more than a month after that game supposedly played for students by students.
Who cares that nobody will be on Eastern Washington’s campus for the home-field tilt or that Sam Houston students (still on summer break) are as likely to drive from Huntsville, Texas, to Cheney, Wash. — more than 2,000 miles — as they are to crawl on their knees to a party without alcohol?
The game originally was scheduled for Sept. 13, but then ESPN’s money came a-callin’.
‘‘Come August 23, right before Labor Day, people are starving for college football,’’ Brent Colborne, ESPN’s director of programming for NCAA championships, told USA Today. ‘‘People are ready for football. This is a really cool opportunity to serve those fans.’’
Fans? Cable subscribers, you mean? Hell, yeah!
Eastern Washington and Sam Houston asked the NCAA to allow them to start practice way earlier than normal, and that was no problem, of course. The commissioners of all the Football Championship Subdivision conferences — except the Ivy League, which abstained — said, ‘‘Go for it!’’
Nobody asked the players, of course. Why would you query the pigs in the chute, the strippers in the chorus line?
As Colborne put it, ‘‘We feel like we can get a significant audience for this game.’’
What more could anyone want? Eyeballs. Ads. Subscriptions. Then ESPN’s ‘‘Outside the Lines’’ can debate the horror of it all. More eyeballs, ads and subscriptions.
And you wonder where a seemingly reckless whistle-blower such as former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is coming from with his likely futile attempt to call what he and his brethren do ‘‘work’’? To form a united front of any sort against the millionaires who think ‘‘student-athletes’’ should shut up and deliver?
ESPN works like any monolith, so don’t blame it. Blame the universities for making a free thinker such as Colter seem like a pariah, even as they peddle flesh for cash.
It’s hilarious. But don’t let any of it interfere with your right to be entertained.
Imagine if you had to rise from your Barca-Lounger on Aug. 23 and had to go out and cut the grass or something. That’s so wrong, I don’t know where to start.
† I’M CERTAINLY NOT
the only one who chuckled when U.S. Olympic speedskaters in Sochi couldn’t win with their new super-secret, uranium-powered racing suits from Under Armour. They whined and whined, put on their old suits and couldn’t win with them, either.
What’s the saying: ‘‘It’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools’’?
But the bigger point — to me, at least — is that sports shouldn’t be determined by how good one’s equipment is. Technology affects everything in life. How about not sports?
The nonsense we went through in swimming a few years ago because of high-tech bodysuits that did everything but propel the wearer through the water almost ruined the sport.
I wish speedskaters were handed generic suits from a jumbled bin before each race, got skates with sizes painted on the back (like we do when we rent shoes at a bowling alley) and just went out there and raced. Then maybe training, talent and desire would trump manufacturing.
Don’t even get me started on golf.
† HUMOR. We need some.
This is the best I can do: Rutgers, soon to be your 14th Big Ten school, will pay $11.5 million to the American Athletic Conference for leaving that league in what only can be described as a sneaky, devious way.
You see, there’s supposed to be a 27-month notification period before a school leaves the AAC, but Rutgers pretty much up and left when it got the good news that the Big Ten wanted it, sleazy reputation and geographic misfitting be damned.
Again, it was all about TV exposure. Wealthy Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany planted a new flag in the East! Got Maryland, too? Money!
The ethics of stealing a school from another conference? Come on. Ethics are for dippy ‘‘student-athletes.’’