DISCLAIMER: This post has been adapted slightly from my post of 7/23/11, which was prior to
the recent allegations about the University of Miami.
I am a sports fan. I am not a member of the media. I do not work for any school or sports
organization. I am just a fan. The opinion expressed below is just that, an opinion. I do not investigate issues like a sportswriter or reporter does. I read, watch, and pay attention to the issues going on in the sports world. I form my opinion accordingly. This issue has been on my mind for a while so I
simply needed to post my thoughts. As with any issue, my opinion is ever-evolving. Right now though, this is where it is at. Whether my opinion is right or not is irrelevant. I simply want to make you think.
How far will you go?
Loaded question huh? I know it is and that’s the point because it is one that requires an answer from college sports fans.
How far will you go in your support for your team? Will you support them no matter the cost? Think about that for a few minutes while you read.
It used to be that college sports were a pretty easy follow; at least for me. Before Twitter, Facebook, even the sheer popularity of the internet, you could just BE a fan. Before subscribing to scouting services or massive publicity of “media days”, you could go to a game or just watch the team on television. The game happens
and then it’s done; back to your normal life.
True, SEC fans live, eat and breathe college football but they’re just a different breed altogether. As are some
fans of certain schools but I digress.
Seriously though, you could just enjoy the games and cheer for your team. If they won, you had bragging rights. And if they lost, you could be mad and question the coach or players and that would be it. Sure you could talk shop with your buddies, or fellow fans, during the week but not to the level it is now.
Now, it’s a completely different world. Or, so it seems. Now, it’s almost as if there’s a school every week in trouble with the NCAA. News of violations or investigations are coming to light more and more, which makes me wonder……
Is this really something new? Or, rather, has it always been there, but it’s easier for us to find out about it with technology such as it is now?
As a fan, I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately. Ohio State, Oregon, LSU, Boise State, North Carolina, Auburn, Miami are just a FEW of the schools that have made news over the last few months in
relation to trouble with the NCAA. Let me repeat that…. A FEW. I say that because there are roughly 1200 schools in the NCAA. Not all of them are ones you hear about like the ones I listed above. But, the ones you hear about above are the reason I ask the question:
How far will you go?
Those schools are all well-known in football and/or basketball. They have performed at a high level on the field, to the point of playing for a national championship, or just simply a high-level bowl game (with high dollar amount payout). Think about this: they play at a high level and they are ALL IN TROUBLE with the NCAA. When I say in trouble, I’m not saying they are guilty. If, however, you are under investigation,
that’s usually not a good situation. An IRS audit is, in essence, an investigation of your taxes right? It doesn’t mean you are guilty but it’s not necessarily a good thing to be under investigation. There are QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
Okay, follow me here. They are in trouble with the NCAA but perform at a high-level on the field. Is that okay with you? Is it okay if your team wins but does so with possible breaking of rules? It’s a question that I’ve heard asked a few times but I feel it bears repeating. Do you want your team to win or do you want your team to run a clean program? Or, asked another way, how far will you go? I’ve been a college sports fan for a long time, and it seems as though you cannot run a “clean” program and win at the top. It’s becoming clearer to me with each and every NCAA investigation I hear about. As a fan, I’m asking myself the same questions.
Is winning all that matters?
If it is, I believe we forfeit the right to complain when the NCAA begins looking into our schools. I also believe we forfeit the right to complain about the media writing or saying anything negative about our school (unless there is a back-story to their opinion – i.e. personal vendetta). If winning is all that matters, I believe we are at the point where we should expect investigations. It doesn’t mean they will happen, but we should expect them nonetheless. A school can’t win if it doesn’t cheat right?
However, if winning isn’t all that matters then there is something else we forfeit. If our coaches run clean programs, we forfeit the right to demand a coach be fired. We forfeit the right to call into local radio shows and complain about the coaches or players not doing things the way we think it should be done. We forfeit that right because those who care about winning only and nothing else, can complain about those issues. The NCAA shouldn’t come knocking at your school’s door if you’re not winning because your program should be clean. Right?
Extreme views? Possibly. Each year though, the issue seems to get worse. The better a team performs on the field, or court, invariably there seems to be some sort of investigation the following year or shortly thereafter. Coincidence? I think not. Cheat and you win. Don’t cheat and you’re a clean program. But then again, if you don’t get caught, is it really cheating?
It’s something to think about. For me, as a long-time fan, I will admit that some days I just want to be a fan and ignore the issues big-time college sports faces; just give me the games. And then other days, I want
things to be cleaned up. I want changes to how the NCAA does things. I want changes to how the current system works with high-profile athletes. They play the games. The school and coaches of those high-profile programs make a lot of money but the athletes don’t? That issue needs cleaning up too.
As you can see, I fluctuate in what I want. It’s a complex issue with many sub-issues. But from a fan standpoint, the bottom line question for us is:
How far will you go?
Just think about it.