Monday, April 7, 2014

NCAA Basketball Freshman: right goal, wrong argument.

After what has been arguably the best NCAA Men's Basketball tournament in recent memory we're now going to be subjected to a bunch of emotional hand-wringing by the Nation's moral police over the dire state of NCAA athletics and the desire (of some) to put an end to the "one-and-done" rule that allows players to declare for the NBA draft after one season in College.

The first salvo was launched by Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari who has a starting five consisting of all Freshman.  What this means is that, next year, Calipari is likely to lose his entire starting line-up to the draft.  Closely following this was NCAA President John Emmert who concurred that the rule is bad for basketball.

This has lead to the emergence of the moral-outrage brigade who are constantly here to remind us that the NCAA is a dirty monster who's only goal is to exploit the athletes at every turn. While I'm no fan of the NCAA, I also don't think that they are decisively anti-athlete.  What they are is pro-member institution. And the NCAA should be pro-university, because they (not the athletes) make up the membership.

So the argument against one-and-done is not one of athlete concern, nor is it about making money for either the NBA, the NCAA members or the athletes. It's an argument for better basketball at all levels.

Calipari and Edelmen can glower at each other all they want, bang their ideologically pure chests and scream to the heavens that the system is short-changing the players but, in reality, what they are each doing is forwarding an idea that is to their own benefits. Calipari would most certainly benefit from keeping players around longer and Edelmen would benefit professionally from having his published ideas confirmed. While Edelmen likes to paint himself as ideologically pure, there is a financial benefit in the marketplace of ideas to being correct. No one pays attention to someone who is wrong frequently, unless that person has the surname Krugman.

I've little patience for chest-bangers. In the long-run they typically are outed for the personal-attention/glory seeking mongrels that they are.  Give me someone who admits they stand to gain financially from something and I'm more likely to trust their motives.  From that standpoint, I can understand what drives you and I can believe that you really care about this issue.

All that being said, I'd like to see the end of one-and-done because I believe it will result in a better quality of basketball. And yes, that's a selfish motivation because I enjoy watching sports played at the highest level.

But, wait. Didn't I just say that we are exiting one of the best men's tournaments in recent history?

Yes, I did, but what we're not seeing any longer are the best TEAMS in recent history. The games are close, but the quality of play is spotty.  Because of a lack of player development NBA games are borderline unwatchable, and for every Kevin Durant that makes it big there are 100's of other stories of players leaving early only to wash-out.

If I had my way we'd return to the days when you had to complete your eligibility in College before going pro. I understand that this is not feasible in today's "get rich now" society and I also understand that some players lack the book-smarts to make it through College. In the latter cases I would propose four years in the D-league as a substitute for being able to sing an Alma Mater.

None of this is ever going to happen however, because we've bastardized sport into a corporate game where profits win and the fans lose, always, without question. I propose eliminating one-and-done to make basketball a better game, but the owners and honchos aren't concerned about that, they want a more profitable one.

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