Duke Wins NCAA Championship: College athletes rising to greatness in spite of institutional failure

United States Senator Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, illustrated without really thinking too much about it a great crisis for many when she tweeted after the 2015 NCAA Championship between Duke and Wisconsin:

“Congrats to Duke, but I was rooting for team who had stars that are actually going to college & not just doing semester tryout for NBA.”


Saturday Night Live just prior to the big game made similar jokes in the same spirit, assuming that college athletes had an unspoken duty to their institutional education as opposed to the financial opportunity of leaving college after one or two years to join the NBA as young millionaires. These points of view are lost to ideology rooted in a hatred for capitalism where the old-fashioned belief was that citizens were supposed to learn a vocation which served society and that was the purpose of the college experience. Instead the perception and accusation is that student athletes were selfishly serving the all mighty dollar and colleges were letting them do it for the big money generated by the popular basketball tournament. The common villain in the whole exchange was money.

This is where the old progressives have failed to understand where they are, and what young people are supposed to learn in college. The NCAA Tournament is all about production, sixty-eight college teams fighting it out for the number one spot. The heroes get drafted into the NBA, thousands of sports bars cash in on a spike in business—beer is sold, chicken wings etc. Advertisers get exposure for their products and schools get an increase in their profile with national exposure—meaning likely increased enrollment in their colleges which then pay the salaries of their staff. There is very little wrong with the NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness. I’m not even a big basketball fan, yet I find myself enchanted by the festivities every spring.

College as it was conceived is a failure. The thought of shaping young minds into soft-minded government employees is currently failing. Going to college is not the path to a vibrant economy. Fresh, unimpeded ideas are. Too much government restricts the economy so the college experiment failed right out of the gate. Instead of giving their children a better life than they had, lifestyles regressed just two generations after the implementation of a global acceptance of widespread college education. Kids today have been spoiled rotten by parents guilty over their own life decisions and those students are entering the workforce with house payments thrown at colleges’ indebting them for their entire working years. They are arriving at jobs that pay half of what they expected and not having expendable income to help float the economy leaving epic stagnation. Since most of what the colleges taught was progressive values, nobody learned how to do anything but show social sensitivity, because nobody knows anything anymore about anything. That is the fault of modern colleges instituting misplaced values.

One of the only things kids can look forward to is that their college sports team might do well and give them some sense of pride in their alma mater—for all the money they’ve spent on their educations. Lucky kids can use their college years to get a job interview, but it doesn’t do much to prepare those former students for the marketplace of ideas. College was sold as a way to buy success for children—but all it really bought were kids flat lined economically and socially neurotic. They have been molded into dismal human beings.

That is the system that Senator Claire McCaskill and Saturday Night Live defended through their various parodies. It reminded me of my fourth grade teacher who took my class on a field trip to the Cincinnati Music Hall to listen to the symphony play a concert dedicated to Star Wars which had just come out and was grotesquely popular. During the concert slides from the movie were shown on a big screen and kids cheered with the display of their favorite characters. It was a very energetic and positive experience—until we arrived back to our class. Our fourth grade teacher who was just shy of 30 years old at the time chastised our entire class for enjoying the concert. I sat there completely dumbfounded as her reaction was completely opposite to what I was feeling. I had a great time, and so did the rest of my class. I didn’t understand. My teacher went on to say that cheering for the characters on the slides would hurt the feelings of the members in the symphony and that Star Wars was all about making money and success—so it should be shoved aside in favor of “high art.” The same arguments are constantly thrown at the Disney Company, and even Nickelodeon for exploiting children for the all mighty dollar, as if making money was somehow evil. Yet if not for Star Wars would any of those kids have sat through a musical concert featuring a symphony? No.

Colleges would be more successful in capitalist America if they stopped copy-catting off the socialist Europeans and started teaching kids that making money is the most important thing they could learn from college. And under that criteria what is wrong with a freshman basketball player from Duke University leaving school for the NBA the very next year because they are so good that team owners want to make 20-year-old kids millionaires? Even better, college sports often highlight minority children…….there is nothing wrong with the situation. Notice how none of the sports bars around America had angry white men protesting black basketball players covered in tattoos. Nobody cared, everyone picked a team and rooted for somebody giving kids the opportunity to be a star no matter what their background or appearance—and receiving a chance to make more money before they are thirty than the lifetime incomes of everyone watching the games in a BW3s. Colleges, as institutions and the products coming from them have missed the point of the NCAA Tournament completely because they refuse to acknowledge the real truth of what the offering of higher education was supposed to be. People want upward mobility—not just a chance to receive a government check and a pension after age 55, but real, substantive wealth—the kind of wealth that could purchase their own island in the Caribbean.   Until colleges face that music, they will continue to lose in the marketplace of ideas, and will struggle to keep their public image as high as it currently is. If not for college sports, how many Americans would still support college as an option? That is an answer that United States Senator Claire McCaskill doesn’t want to know.

Rich Hoffman


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