I'm about to cream my britches waiting on college basketball to start. College basketball!
Kristi Dosh's column about how sports are the best internships is her latest attempt to curry favor with NCAA athletic departments across the nation. While I'm cross-checking some of her assertions, I wanted to highlight a paragraph that gave me quite the chuckle:
A friend who works in college athletics recently told me about a trip he took to visit a Division I football practice. He described the lavish breakfast buffet set up for the players (which included a carving station – we’re not talking about the powdered eggs and dry cereal you get at the local hotel breakfast buffet), the indoor practice facility to protect players from the heat, the world-class weightlifting equipment and the smoothie bar where athletes could get some refreshment between workouts. Tough life, huh? And this wasn’t even at what I would consider a top Division I football program. This athletic department isn’t even on the self-sustaining list.
(The link above appeared in her original text.)
Where she uses this as an argument that football players are pampered, I see this as an argument that this particular athletic department really is taking advantage of its situation. All Division I athletic departments SHOULD BE self-sustainable, especially if it providing these kind of benefits in an attempt to lure football recruits to campus. Taking away a year's worth of football-player pampering may not balance a huge budget deficit. But it would help cover travel costs for another athletic program or two.
When I start hearing about how these poor athletic departments just can't break even, I'm going to start asking which ones can provide me with a steak quiche.
A bunch of men who's livelihoods revolves around entertaining me are preventing that entertainment due to business negoations! Help, help! I'm being repressed!
Jeff MacGregor's column isn't as terrible as the link-lede implies. His comparisons between professional football and professional politics are apt though slightly overbaked. (Which is literally worse for Americans: The Bengals not getting paychecks or the FBI not getting paychecks?)
But there are no captives in this situation. American consumers are not being held hostage by the NFL or the NBA or any other sports organization. NFL fans know that eventually there will be a collective bargaining agreement and play will resume. A shortened or completely missed season is just part of the experience of being a professional sports fan. There's nothing preventing NFL fans from checking out other sports and then checking back in with the NFL once the theatrics are finished.
If NFL fans want to watch football during an extended NFL lockout, they'll see it on Saturdays, Thursdays and other days of the week on the network that employs MacGregor. Most of them probably watch college football already.
With the business process still engaged, all that's left to do is bitch:
The zombie press reports on all these things to the extent possible, of course, which isn't much. Unlike a mattress fire or a cat up a tree -- the drama and subtleties of which are apparent and observable even to us -- in cases like this we can only go on what we're told. And everything we're told is a lie. A strategic feint. A bit of planted agitprop. Someone in a well-cut suit takes us aside in a hotel corridor or statehouse hallway and pours a story in our ear. This we bring back to you like a ransom note, as if the NFL labor agreement or the U.S. Constitution had been scissored letter by letter from a magazine.
The fact is we can only report with full confidence on the quality of the crab cakes in the hotel's atrium bar, or the number of points we'll earn for the stay.
The only people are truly held hostage are the sports reporters. Somebody please get this NFL season started so that Jeff MacGregor can stop being so damned bored.