Happy Fourth of July to everyone. Try to take a moment today during barbecues and fireworks to reflect on the “blessings of liberty” that the Founding Fathers “secured” for us – their posterity. Or, as a morning DJ used to say to his audience back in the 50s and 60s:
“To be sure to have a safe Fourth, don’t buy a fifth on the third.” [ /Bill Wright Sr.]
A couple of days ago, I said that there would be a lot of blathering about the meaning of Lebron James “taking his talents’ to Los Angeles. Indeed, there has been some formulaic pabulum on that topic. However, there have been some standout pieces too and – not surprisingly – Sally Jenkins’ column in the Washington Post about the co-existence of Lavar Ball and LeBron James was superb. I am not capable of distilling it down to a few sentences because it is too insightful to deserve that treatment. Here is a link to her column; please go and read it in its entirety.
The other big move in NBA free agency is the Warriors signing “Boogie” Cousins. I see this as a stress test for the ”professional equanimity potion” that Steve Kerr has clearly been able to dispense to his squad over the past several years. Cousins has been a temperamental handful over the course of his time in the NBA; Draymond Green is hardly a wallflower; this could be interesting to watch. The reason I would give this a “better than 50/50 chance at success” is the way the Warriors as a team and as a coaching staff assimilated JaVale McGee last season. To say that McGee’s career history was a tad “flaky” would be a most polite assessment. Nevertheless, with the Warriors he played and behaved professionally. So may be the Warriors’ magic can rub off on “Boogie” too …?
USA Today published a list of the collegiate athletic departments with the most revenue in 2016/17. The report only includes data from public colleges and universities because the records of those institutions is part of the public record and can be obtained regularly and reliably by journalistic outlets. Looking at which schools were on the list provided only mild surprise; looking at the order of the “Top Ten” provided a couple of surprises. Here is the “Top Ten”:
- Texas $215M
- Texas A&M $212M
- Ohio St. $185M
- Michigan $185M
- Alabama $174M
- Georgia $158M
- Oklahoma $155M
- Florida $149M
- LSU $148M
- Auburn $148M
Here are my “surprises” from that list and from the total revenues:
- I am surprised that Alabama is $41M below Texas and $36M below Texas A&M.
- I am surprised that Oregon is not in the “Top Ten”.
- I am surprised that Oklahoma St. is not in the Top Ten”.
I am not the least bit surprised to see that Ohio State and Michigan have the same total revenue to 3 significant figures. What else might we find for those two schools to compete in head-to-head?
More importantly, we should all look at the revenue totals for these “Top Ten” athletic departments and remind ourselves that we enable a system whereby those athletic departments maintain the pure fiction that they are ‘non-profit entities” which means:
- They file and pay no tax on those revenues and their attendant profits
- Donations to those programs are eligible as “charitable donations”.
Your Congressthing; your Senators; the IRS – under the policy direction of multiple Presidential Administrations from all over the political spectrum – are the ones that created and maintained this giant fiction.
On this July 4th, as you ponder the “blessings of liberty” passed down to us from the Founding Fathers, please also reflect on the fecklessness and the moral cowardice of our current crop of legislators as they allow that nonsensical status quo to continue to obtain.
I understand fully that the Mountain West Conference is not one of the “big boy conferences” in college football. Nevertheless, the conference has passed a “Serious Misconduct Rule” which will make any student-athlete ineligible for any sort of scholarship money or for any athletic teams that compete inter-collegiately. When I read the headline(s) announcing this new rule, I was skeptical; I figured that the bar for “Serious Misconduct” would be so high that Lizzie Borden would have slipped under it comfortably. Or, possibly the certification of the “Serious Misconduct” would only apply after a conviction in a court of law that had been held up on appeal. I was wrong; it seems that the Mountain West Conference has gotten itself out ahead of the rest of the collegiate athletic world in this area.
- The “Serious Misconduct Rule” covers as any act of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation or any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily injury.
- The rule takes effect in the 2019-20 academic year for student-athletes already in MWC schools and for MWC’s prospective student-athletes beginning with the Dec. 2019, signing period.
The devil is in the details – and in this case the value of this rule is in the way and degree to which it is enforced. Let me turn off my “skeptic mode” just a moment and say that I really hope this rule is tightly enforced and that other conferences use it as a template to do similar things in those other conferences.
Finally, on this 4th of July, take a moment to think upon this comment from comedienne, Lily Tomlin:
“Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………