Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Talking Turkey About College Basketball

by STEVE CONN

On most Thanksgiving days in years’ past, and, for days thereafter, I would be behind one of the baskets in Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena at the Great Alaska Shootout. ESPN would televise some of these games, but, for the Alaskan fan, far removed by geography and pocketbook, the chance to watch the top teams (even with some obstruction) make eye contact with one another and perform in your lap was as exquisite an experience as watching a string quartet at close quarters. Then, I would skip the regular season, and watch some of these brilliant players I had observed closely at work during March Madness. I rooted for the teams at the bottom.

But now the Big Teams are not in Anchorage or in Fairbanks (where team demands of  $100,000 upfront ended the rival,  Midnight Sun event) and neither am I. Unknown schools like  Hampton University (formerly, Hampton Institute, a school founded to educate Indians and, then, former Virginia slaves), came north this Thanksgiving and played in the Shoot Out instead of Maryland, Georgetown, and all the other great ones. I grew up in Hampton and used the Hampton Institute’s integrated library with better books and no “colored” water fountains. I hope the players stayed warm.

I still love basketball the way the Mayan loved their ball games and the Romans loved their fights between men, women and animals. What they all have in common right up to the  game on ESPN you and I  just watched is the use of performing slaves. Millions of dollars  flow through the coffers of Big Time Sports and how much trickles down to the players on TV? Bupkes- now spelled correctly,( not, as in “ Dick”). Oh yes, college educations for free, but how many performers graduate or are, even, were intended to graduate?  Even back then, the “college kids” who played big time ball didn’t look like me. Some were older. All were bigger and many were darker. Most were poorer with poorer people at home than my folks, who were not rich. All hoped for a future beyond the unpaid farm team, called a University,  they now sustained. I was studying for my future while they practiced and performed for University as unpaid employees/

Sports stats are so dear to so many. So why can’t someone break down the revenue flow of a college team on television to figure out how some of that profit could end up in a deferred income account to let a college amateur take a profit at the end of his young run? Why not? Because it’s in nobody’s interest but the poor shlubs at the bottom of the food chain.

These are big-time schools with big time academics. The profs are smart,  write books,  have tenure and, even, miserably paid teaching assistants. Adjunct professors fill in the gaps for the glory of an institutional affiliation and for the love of teaching and let real profs do deep thinking. The administrators make crazy money and suck up to the trustees,  the legislators,  the rich alumni or whoever else hoses them down. How long can the NCAA and their members  play the game of setting up the rest of us,  including the struggling student body and the teaching assistants against the jocks to allow these national plantations to exploit the players on our television sets? Right now those players get the same pay as Sarah Palin’s turkey for more work. They get to strut and gobble for your viewing pleasure.

Maybe players should align themselves with turkeys and get support from PETA. Palin’s turkey-murder tape induced national moral outrage. How about a national union of  televised college athletes? Or competition among the leagues or schools to treat college players fairly with some level of profit-sharing? How about it, Colgate, Columbia and UCLA  (my schools)? How about it, University of Alaska Seawolves (my former workplace)?

College ballplayers on Thanksgiving Day are slaves in front of your eyes, not chain gangs or leased-out workers in some underground Alabama coal mine nobody told you about until lately. When do they get a cut, a fair share, a piece of the money pie?

Now,  have another slice of leftover Palin-or-Obama-style  turkey and think about it.

STEVE CONN lived in Alaska from 1972 until 2007. He is a retired professor, University of Alaska. His e mail is steveconn@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]