A few years ago, we asked this basic question: Why were the Kansas Jayhawks allowed to be playing basketball? A few years before that, we wondered something else: Why were the North Carolina Tar Heels allowed to be playing basketball? The answers all along have been this: Money. And nothing has changed in five years, really—and that’s very sad for both college sports and America as a whole.
Cheaters prosper everywhere now: The old adage American children are taught, that cheaters never prosper, is no longer true. So how do parents explain ethics and morals to their kids these days, when Kansas and North Carolina are playing for the NCAA men’s basketball title on Monday night? Simply by turning off the television, perhaps.
We see professional football compromised by cheating, all for the sake of profit; we see the same in professional baseball, too, on many fronts. Meanwhile, professional basketball certainly has not escaped the same, although it’s been awhile since people really questioned the NBA’s integrity. Oh, and we know the college football world is beyond corrupt at this point, too.
But let’s look at reality: Kansas is still under investigation. “The NCAA alleges that Kansas committed several Level-I violations” for “a lack of institutional control and head coaching responsibility to head men’s basketball coach Bill Self.” Yet here the program is, on the precipice of an NCAA title with Self coaching. And even if the Jayhawks win and are later found guilty as charged, the money is banked.
Remember when the NCAA used to have bite? It will never happen again, because of the lost profits. As for North Carolina, well … there’s a whole Wikipedia page on that, with the summation statement that “the NCAA does not have oversight authority for university academic programs.” So, for years, the Tar Heels basically fielded teams of idiots who couldn’t dot an “i” or cross a “t”—sounds legit to us.
Sports have become an economic monster in our modern culture and society, and perhaps it was inevitable from the moment Magic Johnson and Larry Bird stepped on the court together in 1979 to decide the NCAA Championship. The fall wasn’t complete until the world went along with shedding the charade of amateurism in the Olympics. Since then, money has corrupted almost every sport globally.
The sad thing is we can never go back, and something has been lost. Then again, we could argue that it was always lost, and we just fooled ourselves into thinking everything was pure. Humanity has always been corrupt, and sporting competitions were never exempt from that maxim. We wanted to think we could rise above it, but human beings are frail, weak creatures. We have to own it.
A good step in disowning sports would be to watch something else on Monday night, though, instead of the 2022 March Madness finale.