The Instant Historian: Why The NCAA Tournament Is Like Pornography

By Ty Duffy

The NCAA Tournament is fun. Fun that requires one to avert one’s eyes from some pretty rank corruption. Tis the season, so media members dutifully try to “save” college athletics, maintaining some of the purported purity that makes it special. This effort is futile.

College athletics competition possesses no independent virtue. It is a cynical, multibillion dollar entertainment industry. It behaves as such, except for the whole part about paying the labor force. Here’s an analogy for you. Major college athletics is like pornography.

Everyone has a particular college team they are into. One may dabble elsewhere when the well runs dry. Consumers aren’t exclusively men, though men have a disproportionate representation. Some handle college athletics responsibly. Some creeps need to take out down a notch or five. Fans have a base need: tribalism, gambling, whatever. College sports fulfills it. Ignore the skeevy profiteering behind the curtain.

Porn is people performing sexual acts on film for money. College athletics is athletes performing on television to make others money. Both mask the exploitation with a flimsy veneer of plot. Both permit adults to wear sweatpants to the office.

The Instant Historian loved his liberal arts education. Heaven is a silent cubicle in the library stacks with some recommended reading. That collegiate mission has nothing to do with televised, quasi-professional sports. Save your statistics about donations and application numbers.

Some athletes are equipped to take advantage of the proffered educational opportunity. Some women being degraded on camera save up to start a small business or to get a degree. Such successes are tangential to the ultimate project: producing entertainment for profit.

Porn has no underlying art. Amateurism has no underlying nobility. It emerged as a mechanism to keep sports a province of the independently wealthy. It remains, more than a century later, to shield colleges from labor costs, taxes and workers’ compensation payments.

Twitter excoriates sexism. Twitter is doubtless familiar with the web browser’s private feature. Twitter admonishes the NCAA at every turn. Twitter shows up for every major college football or basketball affair en force.

Major colleges will address amateurism in the near future. The compromise will still be unfair, exploitative and maintaining the feel good fiction. That’s a given. There’s no real way to make what’s happening appropriate. Colleges shouldn’t be in the entertainment racket. The racket is too lucrative and popular to ignore.

Following college athletics is a personal matter. The true debate is how much cognitive dissonance one can tolerate. All returns suggest quite a bit. One enjoys oneself in the moment. Upon further reflection, one feels bad about it. One, most often, returns feebly to the trough.

On the USMNT…  The Instant Historian writes of this often. The truth never sticks. Here’s another attempt. The USMNT is not a club team. The USMNT has not played a meaningful match since last summer’s World Cup. Friendly results mean nothing. Midseason international friendlies are mere cash grabs for national federations.

Bendtner Time happens rarely. The few times it does in the face are demoralizing. Don’t lose the broader plot.

Players looked out of sorts flying around the world from their club teams to play a midweek match? You don’t say. Jurgen Klinsmann looks like he has no real plan and is just throwing ideas? That’s what he should be doing, when there are no stakes.

What matters is the World Cup, Copa America and maybe the Gold Cup if one wants to push it. In truth, much of what happens then, positively or negatively, will have little to do with Jurgen. He doesn’t train players week to week. He can’t control injuries. He’s not lacing up his scoring boots. Even Napoleon needed commanders operating on their own initiative in the field and the chance artillery shell hitting an ammunition wagon.

Stay #narrative free. Worry about things going sour when it counts.

[Photos via USAT]