Try to imagine a world with no sports. No basketball, no football, no baseball, no athletic competition. The terms camaraderie, teamwork, perseverance, would they be comprehendible in any other atmosphere?
Now I am not trying to get philosophical here, because that simply is too much brainwork for me. But what I am trying to convey here is a gradual decline in the competitive nature of sports. Maybe as a youth we enjoy playing with your friends, whether it is pizza after a blowout loss to a team that was simply more talented, or waving to family and friends from the stands as you try and showcase for them, but did it teach us anything?
Did we have a competitive edge? We never thought about endorsement deals, the sense of entitlement, the pressure from boosters and agents begging you to play for a respective school. We were innocent youth enjoying sports for what they were: to have fun, get some exercise, and be around friends and family.
As a sports enthusiast, I believe that even at the collegiate level this sense of camaraderie, team cohesiveness, the epitome of what entails the responsibility of a student-athlete, it is long gone.
Like a candle in the wind, the flame goes out and will never return. Boosters, agents, coaches and their multi-million dollar contracts have tarnished and destroyed what defines athletics.
Sure at the pro level they finally get their millions, and there really is an “I” in team. Or three I’s if you ask the Miami Heat’s “Big Three.”
If student-athletes can be shopped around like prized jewelry at a pawnshop, highest bidder and all, it is really all about the Benjamin’s.
Or even listening to Mel Kiper, Jr. talk about the NFL Combine and who has the best chance of showcasing their skills for NFL scouts.
I know Homo sapiens imply that we are animals, but these are 22-year-olds we’re talking about here. The political machine that is professional sports has completely tarnished a person’s role in athletics.
Call me crazy, but are they not passed from combine to combine, tested like cows on an assembly line. They measure their height, weight, how fast they are, how much they can lift. They have become machines.
When free agents are looking for the highest bidder, are they even human anymore? I am waiting for the day Carl Crawford’s or Jayson Werth’s of this world are put up on a podium, all 32 teams general managers are sitting there with cards, as an auctioneer begins with a starting price, and the highest bidder wins the price. Sold!
So while we venture into the reality of capitalism, the global market economy, and an industry that produces a very small market of talent at that level, the innocent game and role of athletics is completely thrown out the window.
Even at the collegiate level, national letters of intent sign off athletes to respective schools, as if they are pieces of property. Here’s a contract that makes us own you and commit to this university.
The term student-athlete is non-existent. They aren’t there to get an education. They are there to compete in athletics and stream in revenue for the school.
Think of the Nevada-Boise State game last year. Broncos kicker Kyle Brotzman had a chance to send the Broncos to a sure BCS bowl game with a game-winning kick as time expired. His missed kick allowed Nevada to send the game into overtime, as they eventually won. Instead of a BCS Bowl bid like the Orange Bowl, they went to the Las Vegas bowl.
Millions of revenue from the BCS game lost, and probably an incentive check to head coach Chris Petersen. His 26-yard field goal was worth millions for the school, worth more than 100 grand for his coach in incentive bonuses.
Am I the only cynical person who sees something drastically wrong with this? More money more problems, and as you venture into a promising athletic career, the more problems you begin to encounter.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin offered a 13-year-old a scholarship to USC and got him to commit when he was in middle school. Let the incredible sense of entitlement begin, the competitive nature fade, as the world revolves around the athlete or coach, and instead of playing the game simply to play, Derelle Revis holds out because he wants more money and Carmelo Anthony wants a trade.
Maybe there are more important things to care about, but life without sports is like life without water: non-existent.