Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Six Foot Five, 250 Pound, 9.3/100, Four Foot Standing Jump, Ambidexterous, Ballet Schooled High School or College Pro Prospect

There's actually a penalty in College football for excessive celebration. In the pros, excessive celebration is at least tolerated if not encouraged, perhaps mostly by the ticket buyers.

I understand how that penalty came to be and what it was designed to prevent. The powers that be in the NCAA hope to inhibit the behavior of college athletes who want to imitate the professional players' self-congratulatory and obnoxious behaviors.

If it still could be argued that there is a distinct difference between the amateur and professional levels of sports this might make some sense. But in the world of sports, the NCAA Division 1A "college" teams are really the farm clubs of the pros.

In the world of professional baseball there exist several levels: A, AA, AAA and Major League. Everybody understands this to be a kind of "earn your ups" game like, but more serious than, the one we played on the street in front of our houses before Mom called us in to dinner.

In the business of professional sports, the college "game" is essentially the business equivalent of the minor league system in the world of professional baseball, but with a most significant difference.

In minor league baseball the managers and coaches understand that their role is one of developing their players; a teaching, mentoring role. Far too often, college coaches understand that their role is to win games, conference championships, bowls and the Holy Grail of college "sports", National Championships. Off season college coaches compete with each other for the best of the best in the high schools of the country. As in the pros, money talks. It's supposed to be offered in the form of scholarships, but now and then they or their side -mouth speaking wealthy alums flash some cash. It's not supposed to be that way, but those they are trying to persuade often are the kids of struggling Moms and hopefully Dads.

Fortunately and happily there are college coaches who have the attitude, perspective and values to resist those pressures to do almost anything they can to "win one for the Gipper". Coach K at Duke seems like one of those.

Such pressure often comes from the sophomoric and mid-life crisis alums who have made it big financially, but have not made it big in values. These are the ones who rely on the power of their checkbooks to hide their personal inadequacies and impotence's. These are the ones who use their checkbooks to buy respect from the presidents and trustees of their Alma maters. It's likely that these persons are not aware of their own self-deception. Unfortunately, more often than not, they are not brought up short in that self-deception due to the fact that those they want and need to influence have their own wants and needs, and so the enabling, co-dependent behavior continues. As usual, if you don't understand something, follow the money.

Perhaps it's fortunate that the Div 1A college coach's job is much tougher than the minor league baseball manager's job. The baseball guys keep their jobs if they are positively evaluated by the owners of their major league franchise, according to how well they scout, recruit, coach, mentor and train their young people to be ready to play at the major league level. Of course they want to win, but their win/loss record, though personally important to their players and themselves, is secondary to their mission, and not national news as it is with the coaches of the Division 1A colleges.

This is something most everyone who is interested in sports knows, understands and perhaps even wonders how long it will be before there is a sufficient ground swell of enthusiasm to tackle
the issue. I think it's a problem. Not everyone does.

Now here I go again in my usual tendency to take an issue I care about and subject it to and infuse it with the heat of my personal thoughts and feelings. Such is the nature of A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.


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