Tuesday, April 7, 2015

March Madness and the NCAA purity lie: How the billion-dollar basketball-industrial complex blinds us to our biggest flaws - Salon.com

I like basketball.I;m excited that Chris Mullins is coming back to St. John's.  And yes, OK, I enjoyed three NCAA tournament games - Notre Dame v. Kentucky, Wisconsin v. Kentucky, and Wisconsin v. Duke.  I rooted for the underdog in each - to protest the most successful, the most corrupt.  Let's face it.  Sports is the only place where Americans celebrate Black triumphs.  But the educational fraud is the elephant in the room - from North Carolina's phony courses to Harvard where many athletes were caught in cheating scandals. - gwc
March Madness and the NCAA purity lie: How the billion-dollar basketball-industrial complex blinds us to our biggest flaws - Salon.com
by Shawn Hamilton

"In a nation split by partisan bickering, one of the few documents that both liberals and conservatives await with genuine enthusiasm is President Obama’s March Madness bracket. Liberals hope to match it or best it. Conservatives hope to obliterate it, but unlike most hot political topics, it’s all in good fun, right? For many, March Madness is the ultimate return and escape: a return to a simpler, purer time; an escape from the crass concerns of corrupt professional sports. This perception is, of course, rooted in myth.  
This year’s March Madness tournament will earn the NCAA close to a billion dollars in revenue. TV ratings for CBS, who aired the tournament games, skyrocketed to an 18-year high. That this tangled mess of contradictions and hypocrisies is cause for celebration for anyone other than the NCAA — and CBS — is a sign of both the accuracy and the timelessness of Juvenal’s old adage about bread and circus. 

Rather than celebrating, we should all approach March Madness with a sense of foreboding. March Madness is emblematic of so many troubling trends in business, labor, education and race that extend way beyond the basketball court. For starters, the NCAA is a cartel that has created a monopoly, and like other cartels it argues that its goals and the public’s goals are one and the same — John D. Rockefeller argued that Standard Oil’s monopoly provided stability, and OPEC, according to its website, “organizes and unifies petroleum policies in order to stabilize oil markets”. The NCAA predictably calls itself a “membership-driven organization dedicated to safeguarding the well-being of student-athletes and equipping them with the skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and throughout life.” All unassailable goals, sure, but cartels, whether they’re the NCAA or OPEC, exist to fix prices — in the case of the NCAA, it’s the price of labor."

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