Something horrible has happened in college sports. Tell me if you’ve heard that before. It turns out that a female golfer was forced to “repay” her school $20 for unfair benefits given to her. These benefits were, of course, using school water and a hose to wash her car. I’m going to ignore how seriously overpriced college water is and focus on the real issue.
Since this story broke, every sports writer and analyst has talked about how shocking it is that the NCAA is focusing on this insignificant infraction while there seems to be an endless number of serious issues in college sports right now.
Why are people still surprised by these kinds of things?
The NCAA loves the small issues. The small issues are easy wins and make them look like they are doing all they can to police college sports. Fixing major problems is tough. People are still protesting the Penn State sanctions (beyond all evidence and logic), but do you know what no one complained about? When the NCAA put a stop to schools providing illegal cream cheese for athletes’ bagels (yeah, that really happened).
In the past year alone, the NCAA highlight reel of enforcement includes:
- A university was forced to report an infraction when some random guy called a recruit on its behalf.
- An administrative intern provided coaching (because the kids that take administrative jobs on campus probably know a ton about football).
- A volleyball coach accidentally texted the parent of a recruit while trying to text a friend.
- A coach sent an email to a high school junior. He was trying to email her older sister, who he was recruiting.
- An assistant football coach was caught with a big ole lipper of dip. He was spitting the tobacco onto the turf (apparently, the NCAA did not notice that the rest of the coaching staff, interns, and players were doing the same).
- A coach replied to a recruit’s text. The offending reply: Sure.
- A school gave football players books that were recommended for class but not required. The books were returned.
Meanwhile, nothing happened to the Miami football team, nothing happened to Shabazz Muhammad, and Derrick Rose still doesn’t know what an SAT is.
At a certain point, the sports writers just need to come to terms with the way things are. Small stuff gets overblown, and big stuff gets swept under the rug. The NCAA shows authority and doesn’t have to deal with the big questions.
If the writers and analysts should be shocked about anything, it should be that the NCAA still insists that athletes are just regular students. They’re not, and no amount of regulation will make it so. I never saw anyone chant the name of the valedictorian after dominating yet another test, never heard of a co-ed getting a nutritionist and trainer from the school to get into “Spring Break shape,” and no one I know ever had Brent Musburger drool over his girlfriend in front of 26 million people (although that last one is my personal life goal).
Hopefully, someday, that game will end. The NCAA will stop pretending the student athletes are not bigger and better than those of us that actually pay tuition. When that happens, these insignificant benefits won’t matter and the NCAA will need a new way to show it has authority. Until that time comes, though, we need to stop being surprised when the NCAA goes to silly lengths to demonstrate their control over college sports. Ya know, control without addressing under the table payments of players, recruiting issues, coaches bailing on their contracts, players getting arrested all the time, or anything else people care at all about.
OTHER ARTICLES YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: