In a restless mood, I was channel surfing in a desperate attempt to find something, anything, worth watching on TV. As seems to be the case for me lately, the pickings were slim at best. Finally, I arrived at ESPN II which was airing a segment from its documentary series, 30 for 30. In the past, I have found them well produced and informative. So, I staid to see what they were offering. It was a documentary on the University of Kentucky's successful, but polarizing, head basketball coach, John Calipari.
Now, anyone who knows ANYTHING about college basketball knows that the University of Kentucky Wildcats rank among the games elite programs. In fact, it may be considered the State's greatest export. With that in mind, the program is given EVERY resource imaginable to be successful. And, the coach is no exception. Coach Calipari's salary, not including bonuses, is $8 million/year. That's right - $8 million!
So, you can imagine my shock when, during one segment of the program, Coach Calipari is talking about how important that everyone realize that, despite the fact that some of his players may be 7' tall, but they are still just "kids". While he is saying how important that we respect their "vulnerability" they are boarding their PRIVATE PLANE to fly to their next game. While Calipari is talking about his solemn responsibility to get this kids to "live their dreams", the players are stretching their 7' frames across entire rows of seats in their PRIVATE PLANE.
Are you f'n' kidding me???
The hypocrisy made we want to puke.
I played college football on the so-called club level at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. Club football meant that it was barely sponsored by the school. In other words, we were pretty much on our own. We had limited practice facilities and even fewer locker room ones. At one point, our locker room had only one working shower - one! Not only did our coach not make nearly $8 million - he made NOTHING - he VOLUNTEERED!!
So, why did we do it? We played simply for the love of the game. There were no high profile, controversial coaches. There were no scholarships. And, there certainly were no private planes to fly us around the Country to compete! All we had was one another and our desire to play the game we all loved.
We've lost the purity of what it means to compete simply for it's own sake. College sports is BIG BUSINESS - no, correction - it's HUGE BUSINESS. And, the hypocrisy associated with it is everywhere. The situation at the University of Kentucky is a classic example. And, they are not alone. The State of Kentucky can't find the money to support sick coal miners (the backbone of its society) but it can afford $8 million/year for it's University's basketball teams coach and private planes for its players - just so they can "live the dream".
Perspective, my friends, perspective.