Sunday, March 21, 2010

Basketball vs Brains.

Good Morning Folks:

Well its that time again. March Madness, a title applied to the NCAA Basketball Tournament .This Tournament always starts me to wondering what will happen to these players when they leave College.

Some of them, a very few, will go on to the "Professional" ranks, a term which is misleading because it only means that these players are getting paid to play. In that sense, every working man and woman in the United States is a "Professional". that sense, I prefer to not refer to these players as "Professionals", but rather as paid players.

I read an article in this Morning's Newspaper, written by a Man whose opinion I have respected in the past, for his thoughtful insights, and frequently amusing columns, and today's column is what made me start mulling over the subject for this post.

But today's column, I respectively submit, is Hogwash. I submit this criticism with the full knowledge that this Newspaper is published in Kentucky, and to say anything even remotely critical about Basketball, or its players or Coaches, is tatamount to, at the least heresy, and usually sedition, in the State of Kentucky, so I guess one cannot blame this Editor for not wanting to put his head on the chopping block.

Today's column as mentioned above, is about the U.S. Secretary of Education's Proposal that any College not graduating at least Forty Percent of its athletes should not be allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament to which I say, " RIGHT ON MR. SECRETARY.!!!!!!!!!!!!."

However, in the above-mentioned column, the writer (The Executive Editor of the Paper, or the Archbishop of Articles) takes issue with the Secretary of Education, saying that he (the Editor) thinks that time in College is beneficial for these "Athletes". Perhaps it is beneficial to the College, in that the College makes money off its sports programs (supposedly), but I fail to see how it has been shown to be beneficial to the so called Student Athletes, other than to enable a very few of them to become Millionaires via the Professional Circuit.The Editor goes on to state that the graduation rate at the University of Kentucky is Thirty-One percent. In my amateurish research I seem to have found a figure of Twenty-One point Three percent as an accurate figure for these student athletes at U.K. (pronounced 'Ewe Kayee")

I believe the overwhelming majority of College Athletes DO NOT go on to become Professional Athletes, or as I call them, felons. In the main, and this is based on personal experience and observation, what these players all too frequently contribute to the College is disruption in the Classrooms and often a lowering of Academic Standards, so that Joe Seven Foot can remain eligible, and by this making the average students (Those who PAY for their education) have to work even harder to glean an Education from a reluctant and dysfunctional college, which are, it seems, more and more tailoring their standards to the least common denominator,thus making "scraping by" an accepted norm and discouraging REAL Students from trying to excel, and gain a REAL education. Also, the Majority of these players either flunk out, drop out or get kicked out of College, thus making all the Instructor's time and efforts wasted on them, when it could be better spent on those Students who are really striving for an Education.

So, as a suggestion, let us also increase that percentage, suggested by the Secretary of Education. by one percent every year. It's only fair, and could serve as a precursor for these young people in their daily lives, and in making a living. After all don't most Businesses, large and small, tend to hire only the brightest of applicants, and retain only those who do the best work ? Seventy Four years of life have qualified me to answer that question with a resounding YES! Hell, even Bill Gates, the founder and Chief Muckety Muck of Microsoft, himself a drop out from Harvard, has instituted a policy for his Company of not even ACCEPTING a job application from a person unless the applicant has a College Degree. so, I think, that even Mr. Gates probably thinks that he could have done a little better (and yes, it's hard to see how) If he had graduated from college. However, as best as I recall Mr. Gates didn't attend Harvard on a Basketball Scholarship, so perhaps he learned enough in the time he WAS in school to help him become the wealthiest nerd in the World.

Folks, we can either face hard facts now or later, but sooner rather than later we will, as individuals and as a Nation, HAVE to face the facts.

If our High School and College graduates are becoming a smaller and smaller percentile of our population, and our graduates are slowly becoming less and less intelligent, doesn't it follow that our Nation will also slowly fall behind other Countries, where Education is given the highest Priority ?

And if our country falls behind, doesn't it follow that the quality of life for each and everyone of us will degrade? Of Course it does.

In checking Statistics, I see that Kentucky, the State wherein the Newspaper containing the article which prompted this post, ranks Forty-Fifth in the Nation in College Athletes who Graduate with at least a Bachelors Degree.

This may or not be because the University of Kentucky has long been known as a "basketball school", and perhaps then not chosen by parents deciding on the best University for their children to get the best Education, and thus, presumably, have a better and more successful life.

It doesn't have to be this way folks. The University of North Carolina, which usually has a pretty fair basketball team,has as their Graduation Rate Sixty-Four percent. Likewise Duke University with a Sixty percent graduation rate , illustrates the fact that a College or University can have both an abundance of first rate Scholars AND a highly proficient Sports Team, which is after all (or should be) only a addendum to SCHOLARSHIP programs, and not a raison d`etre for the Schools existence.

This, of course, doesn't hold true in all cases. There are thousands of people who have graduated from a "Sports College" who have gone on to accomplish much. But I think it is a fair argument that the more emphasis Schools place on Education, at the cost of sports, the better chance a kid has of getting good Education. The shame of all the above is that this Nation has gradually over the past four decades or so, slowly lowered out standards of excellence, and our status in the World.

But as the old query goes "What do you call the lowest ranking graduate from Medical School? A. Doctor"., so maybe now Businesses don't really care if you know anything or not, just as long as you have a college Degree, any Degree, Any College.

So, With deep respect Mr. Editor, You're Wrong.

Says Me


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