Geno Auriemma wants Accountability

Geno Auriemma

The Transfer Portal

The NCAA changed their Transfer Portal rule last year and Geno Auriemma, head coach of the perennial women’s college basketball powerhouse University of Connecticut, doesn’t like it.

Prior to this season, if a player wanted to move from one school to another, she or he had to sit out an entire season of play. This is an extraordinary punishment considering the athletic lives of such players are very short and earning potential for even a single season is millions of dollars.

Why Geno is Angry

Geno Auriemma is mad because some of the players he recruited left and their ability to continue to do so is now significantly easier. Geno Auriemma has some telling quotes in the story.

In regards to an athlete leaving a program he says, A lot of these kids are delusional. They have so many voices in their ear.

I suppose you know better what the athlete should do? You should be in charge of the decision instead of them, their parents? Can you get any more condescending?

There’s something wrong with the entitlement that happens to exist today, and there’s something wrong with this idea of student-athlete welfare, that everything should be done to accommodate the student-athlete with no regard whatsoever to the coaches who work their ass off to recruit these kids in the first place, work with them, help them get better, make them the player that they are, and then they up and leave with no consequences whatsoever.

Entitlement? Look in the mirror Geno Auriemma. Look in the mirror. You work hard? So do those kids. How often do coaches up and leave for a new contract at a different school without consequences? Leaving the athletes they recruited behind? What’s good for you isn’t good for anyone else?

Those kids have people whispering in their ears? So do you! The people who pay you millions of dollars to coach, the apparel companies that pay your school to have those kids wear their jerseys. What do those kids get paid for all of this? You are the best one to look out for their interests? No, you are the best one to look out for your own interests and the same goes for them.

If we as coaches just call a kid in and say, ‘Look, I thought you’d be a lot better than this, so I’m taking away your scholarship’, we would get crucified.

That’s exactly the way it was until the NCAA changed the rules thanks to a plethora of lawsuits. In the past Geno Auriemma could simply take away a scholarship for exactly that reason but I didn’t hear him up in arms talking about entitlement back then, about the horrors of such a practice.

Conclusion

Kids sometimes make bad decisions; I don’t deny it. Some will want to transfer when it might well be best to stay at the original school. That being said, I don’t want some sanctimonious adult telling young athletes what to do while, at the same time, taking millions of dollars to further the coach’s career. Talk about conflict of interest.

Geno Auriemma is way out of line.

Tom Liberman

High School Basketball NIBC Cash Grab

NIBC

The Situation

A group of six of the best high school basketball teams in the country are forming their own league. The National Interscholastic Basketball Conference. They will play a regular season, special events, and a post-season tournament.

The organization will add two more teams before league play begins this year and there are certainly plans to expand further in the coming years.

Why is this being done? Let me quote Rashid Ghazi a partner at Paragon Marketing Group who will serve as commissioner of the NIBC. The NIBC represents a tremendous platform that combines elite-level basketball with excellent academics in a real campus setting. These six schools have outstanding histories and helped develop countless young men to achieve their dreams of excelling in both college and professional basketball.

Ha, I say. Ha, I repeat for emphasis. It’s a cash grab.

My Problem with the NIBC

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against a nice cash grab. The fact six powerhouse high school basketball programs are forming the NIBC to make money doesn’t bother me at all. Good for them. I recently wrote how elite teams in all leagues win virtually every championship. Largely because of enormous financial advantages over their less well-off counterparts.

What bothers me in this situation is the players and their families will make nothing. Not only will they make nothing but the laws of the United States of America make it essentially illegal for them to make money from their efforts.

These are the kids performing on the court and yet it is the leagues, the league offices, the venues, the officials, certainly commissioner Ghazi. Almost everyone but the kids will take all the money. It’s actually against the law to pay the athletes and let them continue to play in the league. Once any athlete accepts payment, she or he is a professional and barred from amateur sport thanks to insane rules upheld by judges in this supposedly free country.

It’s no far-fetched leap to see an eventual television contract for the league, shady associations with college recruiters tied to college coaches, and any other corruption that comes when this much money is involved.

Conclusion

The NIBC is nothing more than extension of the amoral NCAA which exploits its workforce while making billions of dollars. It’s not right for the NCAA and it’s not right for the NIBC.

How long before we see Crack Baby Athletic Association? My disgust is immeasurable.

Tom Liberman

Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Like the AAU and Corporate Profiteering

kobe-aauThere is an interesting sports story making its way through the various news outlets and it brought something to my attention of which I was unaware. All-time NBA superstar Kobe Bryant recently made some comments about the way young U.S. basketball players are being coached and prepared for the future. He didn’t pull any punches. He also talked about treating the young players like “cash cows”.

He suggested that the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) Basketball arm was largely encouraging young players to perform highlight reel plays rather than learn fundamental basketball skills. That this leads to a lack of basic skills in players all the way up the chain to the NBA. When Kobe talks about the AAU he is also speaking of some leagues you have likely never heard of called EYBL, Adidas Uprising, and the UAA. He lamented that players coming from Europe have better team skills than young U.S. players and this was going to have a long term negative effect.

What I want to talk about today is his “cash cow” comment. It ties back to what he was saying about the lack of fundamental skill but also goes very strongly towards my Libertarian ideology. You have to understand what is EYBL, Adidas Uprising, the UAA, and the new model of the AAU based upon the existence of these other leagues.

Let’s jump back into our time machine to examine youth sports fifty years ago. There was little in the way of traveling teams and the vast majority of players learned their skills from local coaches with a few making select AAU teams. That world no longer exists. EYBL is a Nike organized youth league. Uprising is Adidas and UAA is Under Armour. The main purpose of these leagues is to make money, not develop overall player skills. These corporate leagues do focus on highlight reel plays although there are certainly good coaches in their ranks who work on fundamentals. The players in the leagues travel all over the country to sold-out stadiums to play in All-Star games and one regional “Championship” after the next. The parents of these players shell out big bucks to play in the league. These leagues quickly sucked up all the talented players leaving the AAU to follow the business model or die.

Agents associate themselves with the brightest young talents and their parents. Corporate sponsors make friends with the players who will journey on to college and potentially the NBA with an eye towards the bottom line for Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. They are, for all practical purposes, professional development leagues making money and channeling players towards their agency and products.

What Kobe Bryant says is absolutely true. The players are focusing on big plays to the detriment of their fundamental skills and corporate sponsorship is making big bucks while the players provide the entertainment. Certainly the top level players are gaining keen competitive advantages by playing against the most talented young athletes from other parts of the country that they would never otherwise have competed against. This does serve them well when they transition to high school, college, and potentially NBA careers. So they are profiting to some degree.

Is this corporate takeover of youth athletics a bad thing? A good thing? I think there are arguments to be made both ways.

People are paying to see these young athletes play. Parents are willingly forking over big chunks of cash to allow their children to play even if their dreams of eventual professional stardom and return for their investments are unlikely to be realized. The kids are traveling the country playing a sport they love.

On the other hand the kids are being used to generate large sums of money while getting very little, and no actual payment, in return. This runs counter to my capitalistic ideology. Those who do the work should be getting a share of their profits, as do those who run the league. Parents are being manipulated by promises of eventual college scholarships and huge paydays in the professional leagues. Only a small percentage of these promises are met.

We see this same corporate takeover with Marching Bands, Cheer Competitions, and a variety of other youth pastimes. Things that used to be for kids are now for adults and focus largely on profits. Various companies create artificial “championships” in which parents pay for uniforms, travel, tickets, and sundry other items which all generate profit for the corporations.

I’m not against making money. I think if kids want to participate in these leagues, if parents want to shell out money to have their kids play, and if spectators want to watch then that’s fine.

What Kobe doesn’t like and where I agree with him is that the kids seem to be getting the least from all of it. I don’t think corporate leagues are going away simply because of the profit involved. I do think the kids doing the work should be compensated just as you are paid for working at your job. The kids doing the work should be treated as employees, not cash cows. They should be paid either directly or in some deferred manner. After all, we are not communists.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Comparing Lopsided Scores

Blowout LossNot that long ago I wrote a post about a high school football game in Texas where one team defeated the other by a score of 91 – 0.

Now comes a college basketball game in which a Division I team beat a small school playing for the Association of Christian College Athletics league 116 – 12.

In both games it was a case of a team that was completely superior dominating an opponent. In my post about the football game between Aledo and Western Hills I noted that the coach of Aledo put into place a number strategies to limit the score. He played largely backups starting as early as the first quarter, insisted on fair-catches for punts, used simple running plays to virtually every backup on the team including wide receivers.

Aledo led 56 – 0 at halftime and then scored 35 more points in the second half.

I think what Coach Tim Buchanan of Aledo did was exactly correct for the circumstances. I think kneeling on offense instead of running plays would be more embarrassing for Western Hills. I think telling players to ease off is insulting to the other team. In those circumstances a class act does exactly as Coach Buchanan did. Try to limit the embarrassment but play the game.

Coach Buchanan and Aledo went on to win the 4A State Championship game with a 38 – 10 victory over the Brenham Cubs. Congratulations to the Aledo team and coaches.

Now to the basketball game between Southern University and Champion Baptist College. Southern scored the first 44 points of the game and led 57 – 6 at the half. They scored 59 more in the second half and according to reports engaged in a full-court press for most of the game. Coach Roman Banks of the Southern Jaguars had all five starters in the game for 20 minutes or longer. A college basketball game lasts forty minutes.

I don’t think Coach Banks is obligated to play backups, to call off the press, to insist on passing the ball five times before a shot. It’s his team and he thought they needed to work on the press for upcoming conference games. He felt his starters needed minutes.

My opinion is pretty meaningless in all of this. Coach Banks is going to run his team the way he wants, as will Coach Buchanan.

This world needs more people who display dignity both in defeat and victory. Anyway, I’ll be rooting for Aledo and Coach Buchanan to continue their winning ways.

Tom Liberman

Flopping for Fouls

FloppingI wrote the other day about a situation in baseball where the players actively deceived the umpire and one of the big questions that is plaguing the NBA playoffs this year is a related issued called flopping. It’s not only basketball that suffers from this “strategy” as soccer players routinely hit the ground as if they’ve been brutalized and even in the tough-guy NFL I frequently see the instigator of a little scuffle suddenly fall down from a light tap in order to get a personal foul penalty called on the other team.

To pretend in this manner is called flopping. Flopping is not good for the sport, the fans, the officials, or the players. It is deceit. It is trying to gain an unfair advantage by lying to the officials. The NBA and EUFA (European soccer’s ruling body) are trying to cut down on this practice by calling penalties on the person faking and also fining said individuals. I think this is the correct policy to pursue.

Flopping, embellishing, working the refs; all these things are cheating. It is certainly an acceptable form of cheating. It is certainly practiced far and wide in virtually every professional sport, but it is cheating, plain and simple and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of it when the player for the team for which I am barracking (that’s the Australian word for rooting and I like it) does it and it infuriates me when an opposing player does it. It’s out of hand and it should stop.

The question becomes how do we get it to stop? One way is the current system wherein officials call a penalty of some sort on the person flopping. Another is for the league to review video after the game and issue fines for flopping. I wouldn’t even mind some shaming by posting mandatory pictures in the locker rooms around the league of the most egregious violation. All these methods are legitimate. I’m on record as being for methods of officiating games that remove the human element and these tools will reduce flopping also. The reality is that flopping would stop almost instantly if the players themselves would stop doing it, if they would stop cheating and try to win through their legitimate talents.

Mike Golic of ESPN radio’s Mike and Mike in the morning often says that he doesn’t blame the players for doing whatever it takes to win. He played the game himself and his opinion has enormous sway. I disagree with him. I think this winning at all costs mentality is damaging to sports and dangerous for our country as a whole. One of the things that made the United States great was the work ethic of its people. Work hard, play hard. Work fair, play fair.

I would ask Golic if he taught his sons and daughters to lie to get a better grade? To lie to beat out an opponent? That’s all flopping is, lying to get a favorable outcome.

Flopping is an embarrassment to the player, to the team, to the league and there was a time in the United States where integrity in defeat was admired more than winning at all costs. If we don’t think that by allowing floppers to influence the outcome of events we aren’t teaching people that they should flop in non-sporting venues then we are fooling ourselves. We are raising generations of floppers. They will flop at school to get a better grade, flop at home to get out of doing the dishes, flop at work to get a co-worker fired. Do we want floppers running this country or do we want the best and brightest? Would you promote a flopper at work over a hard worker? Have you witnessed floppers getting ahead at work? Flopping isn’t just for the NBA, it’s epidemic and it’s hurting our country.

It starts with personal integrity and setting an example. Explain why it’s wrong even if your team gains an advantage. Boo, particularly when it’s a player for your team doing the flopping. Most of all, don’t ever flop yourself! Give it your all and shake the other person’s hand if you are defeated. That’s what being an American is all about, that’s what builds friendship, that’s what builds admiration, that’s what builds a nation.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (300+ pages of flashing blades)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt