It's not just the fact that all the coaches now dress like golf pros and talk like salesmen. It's not just the fact that, except for the pep bands, most of the people in the "student sections" look like they haven't been students since about two grand juries ago. It's not just the fact that this weekend is the climax of a month-long event that will net the various luxury-suite cowboys and buffet-table wranglers of the NCAA $800 million, and the naked profiteering goes all the way down to the fact that you are not allowed to bring a beverage into the arena unless it's contained in an authorized NCAA cup that has POWERADE written on it in big (and very lucrative) letters.
(Also, there is no beer served at NCAA events — except, of course, in the luxury suites of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where you can get hammered just like it's a Saints game or something. Never let it be said that the NCAA doesn't know who it needs to keep happy … or sockless.)
What has happened to college sports over the past fifty years or so has been done by academics, by institutions of Higher Learning eager, above all, that the national cow be milked as often and as thoroughly as possible. Not even as often and thoroughly as practicable. Or in keeping with sound theory. As Possible.
(We in Indiana are most familiar with the practice through the work of the late Myles Brand, the Philosophy professor and IU president who came to the attention of the NCAA through his pledge to clean up college athletics one foul-tempered, chair-throwing coach at a time. Brand packed his bags, wrote himself a golden parachute that would've made Donald Trump blush, and headed north to Indianapolis, where, five years later, malignant karma struck him down before his reform program could be completed. Or implemented. Or thought of again.)
Never trust a Professor of Philosophy. If we can't expect academicians to keep their heads at first whiff of billion-dollar teevee contracts, how can we expect the hardened criminals of the nation's two major political parties to do so?
It's taken longer than it did for golf and tennis, and even longer than it took for the Olympics, but the amateur burlesque in American college sports is on its way to crashing and the only remaining question is how hard it will fall. The farce is becoming unsupportable.
Y'know, I understand the focus on the "amateur student athlete" charade, but in my inimitable, living-in-a-bunker way I find it misplaced. Professionalism didn't change golf or tennis, it just made the venues of an early time open to players who could make a living at it. The Olympics is a can of worms, and not the good kind of worm; the impulse which kinda sorta swapped a previously corrupt amateur system run by a racist for a more contemporary corrupt professional system run by American television networks and their sponsors seems mostly to have solved the pressing problem of Curt Gowdy bitching about how the Soviet hockey team was really a bunch of pros. Never mind, of course, that the sum total of their Red Army wages from 1948-1980 could fit in one of Carl Lewis' Nikes; never mind how the outrage over the East German "women's" swim team contrasts with the deafening silence over the systematic looting of the Track and Field record book. If we'd had the sort of Olympic committees which had reacted to the former, we wouldn't have had the latter.
It's precisely the same with the NCAA. How 'bout we let intercollegiate athletics be intercollegiate athletics, and operate the sort of world where NFL money, and NBA money, doesn't dictate our nation's universities act as an unfunded farm system? Where are the Teabaggers on the socialism of One and Done? If Money corrupts college presidents, how do we imagine we get equitable health care from single-minded capital enthusiasts? How do we imagine we'll get a just system of government? Stench is the new Chanel No 5.