Monday, March 29, 2004

Opening day? After these messages from the NCAA...

Well, there isn't much going on right now on the baseball front. The sports world has turned its attention to the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament. Some thought's about that:

If you've watched any of the tourney, you've probably seen the TV spots the NCAA is running, which end "there are 360,000 NCAA student-athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports." Every time some recruitment scandal turns up, I hear voices--usually on sports talk radio--calling for the NCAA to start paying its players some of the money it gets. And nothing makes more money for the NCAA than the Div I Men's Basketball tournament. What the TV spots highlight is that, contrary to guys on sports radio, the NCAA is serious about higher education, as well it should be. Collegiate athletes are getting "paid" with an opportunity to get a college education; if those students take a cavalier attitude towards that education, it isn't the fault of the university or the NCAA. As the TV spots indicate, most collegiate athletes ARE serious about their education, because they don't have a real chance of playing sports professionally and because they generally are pretty responsible people. I'd like to think that athletics actually help to teach that kind of dedication and focus, not steal it away. And that's where all the money is going--back to support all the other athletics programs that don't make it on national TV, but are worthwhile and exciting in their own right.

And also, a shout out to my alma mater and their women's basketball team, who made it to the final eight of their tournament--one of those NCAA sports that might not see the TV coverage, but deserves recognition. The Lady Falcons were ranked no. 1 in the country and were undefeated, but got beaten by 2nd-ranked Drury, who, oddly, they faced in the quarterfinals (on what was essentially a home court for Drury), the first round of the final eight. But it was a good run.

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