By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) With all the excitement and gravitas and craziness of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament come a few lame byproducts. One is the college basketball superiority people pop up Whack-a-Mole style to vomit about “wanting it more” and “playing the game the right way” and “I drink window cleaner.” But I’m not here to take a mallet to them.
Perhaps during the times you haven’t taken bathroom breaks or fixed a snack or pointed and laughed at a Georgetown fan during the commercials you’ve noticed the NCAA using ad space to stroke itself. For long it was ads with the line “…And just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports.” Congrats, badminton player.
Their newest campaign has ads that ask us viewers to think of the NCAA as cheerleaders rooting for players. When I first saw and heard that I hyperextended my eyes with rolling. There of course is the obvious hypocrisy of the ads. Jay Bilas pointed that out with a tweet that read “NCAA commercial tells us to think of the NCAA as a bunch of cheerleaders rooting for players. Love how they rooted for UT’s Myck Kabongo.” Kabongo was suspended 23 games for accepting improper benefits and providing false information to investigators. Bilas ripped the league back in December for their seeming double-standard on ethics, and he obviously and rightly hasn’t let it go.
My bigger issue is the bull that the NCAA is trying to feed us in those ads. It is pretending that it is some champion of education, but that just is not true and rarely has it been ever. And they expect Joe Viewer to ignore the fact that the basketball he is watching now and the football in the fall is part of some great academic drive, where in fact those two sports are full of athletes who are not there for an education. And the league knows that and puts that aside for the sake of profit.
Because that’s what it’s really all about—money. The tournament makes the NCAA gobs of it, but while they are showing you the wrestlers and swimmers that are “going pro” in something else, they certainly won’t mention that in 2013 three out of every 10 tournament basketball players won’t graduate from their schools.
Recently, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida released its annual study, “Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Success and Academic Progress Rates for the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Teams.” Per the institute “This study provides the most comprehensive analysis of the academic performance of student athletes on teams participating in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.” Its findings?
Positive in one sense. The graduation rates overall rose from 67 to 70% since last season. Increases in white graduation and African American graduation both improved and the gap between the two decreased. That’s good to hear. You’d figure the NCAA would put that in their commercials to pat themselves on the back, right?
Well, the reason you won’t see those stats on TV during breaks in the action is because I doubt the NCAA wants to remind you that it’s profiting off of indentured servitude of kids who aren’t graduating at a 100% clip. It certainly doesn’t want to you realize that its NBA-bound players are not getting educated exactly, especially the majority African American future pros who are graduating 25% less than their white teammates. For example, did you watch that exciting game between Indiana and Temple on Sunday? Temple graduated less than half its players. How about the great play of Florida? And how about its 17% graduation rate. Seventeen damn percent.
I begrudge the student athletes nothing other than they shouldn’t be called student athletes for the most part. If they don’t want to get an education, that’s their right. But it says a lot about the NCAA when they carve out course schedules for these guys that would be laughed at by many junior high school kids, and even those can’t get guys that piece of paper that claims they’ve been higher educated. Which leads to another bit of crap—even for the athletes that do get degrees, how often are they in majors that have prepared them for almost zero aspect of the real world or work force?
At the end of the day, it’s the NCAA is a corrupt, dishonest, hypocritical organization. It pimps kids and has expanded its pimpage to entire schools themselves by allowing this conference-jumping garbage that goes on every year now and getting a slice of the freshly baked pie of BS. They only care about graduation so far as it’s good for PR; otherwise, make them money or they don’t care, and football and basketball very much do that for them.
So I’d prefer they not try to polish that turd of “Hey, people who play college sports graduate!” Yes, they do. Just largely not in the sports that bring ratings and bags of cash. The NCAA’s commercials aren’t so different from ones touting fast food. The actual product looks next to nothing like the one advertised on TV. There’s substantial gray area, and it’s greasy and tastes sketchy and you feel bad afterwards. And then there’s the fast food…
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.