As many already know, I have zero interest, and less knowledge, in all forms of sports; considering them on a par with, as a lifelong interest, watching paint dry. The tribal chants of the fans, which title of course stems from the more literary translation of fanatics, at British football games, are echoed around American football arenas, vastly different of course to its British namesake. The similar chants and songs of Rugby aficionados echo whether in New Zealand or Wales. Whether the sport is athletics, or curling, ski-ing or horse-racing, the fan(atics) will surge to their chosen meeting, or game, or whatever; often at huge expense, to watch their heroes perform, or not; as the case may be. It does not really matter to the supporters that, in many if not most of the various sporting endeavours, the clubs are owned, and are indeed operated, as big, lucrative businesses, and those same supporters’ needs and wishes are usually subservient to the bottom line; which is that of profit.
The County Council which allegedly serves the City where I live is a good example of how the cash is thrown around, with over Six Million-odd pounds thrown at the County Cricket Club just because they are really nice guys!
It is profit which determines how much cash is spent upon players, of whatever sport is being discussed, and the players, and their talent, are just another calculation in the rush to gain a better place in the league, or the competition, or indeed whatever. The players are meat on the hoof to the financiers, nothing more, and nothing less. They are paid, sometimes, obscene amounts of money, but if a ligament goes, or a bone fractures once too often, they can be, and usually are, discarded like yesterday’s newspapers. The players are charged by the coaches and managers to go beyond their physical and mental limits to achieve the slogans of ‘be the best’, and ‘we will win’, but a story which has just emerged gives a deeper, darker side to the old chants from the terraces.
The Basketball and Football teams at UNC-Chapel Hill has achieved great glory for that University, in a time span spread over literally nearly two decades, but the leading players, many of them talented African-American students, were given a virtual free ride through enrolment into an African-American Studies Department with zero oversight, accountability or interest in the academic well-being of its students. As long as they performed on the boards, as long as they ‘won’ for the team and the University, they got a virtual free ride, with lies marked up as study, and non-existent examinations given full credit.
However, one group did know plenty about the scheme and actively tried to protect and preserve it. Paid counselors in the school’s Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) were tasked with doing whatever it took to keep Tar Heel athletes eligible, especially those in “revenue” sports like football and basketball. To that end, these counselors not only “steered” athletes to the AFAM department and did homework for them, but they regularly alerted Crowder and Nyang’oro about the grades that each student-athlete required in order to “remain academically or athletically eligible.”
But the worst part is when those gifted athletes left the University where they had been lied to for years, and probably a phoney degree which could not possibly stand against the truth that they had no decent education at all, what future could they look forward to, apart from a tale of how many times they had Won for the Team’
Sports and Sportsmen, don’t make me laugh!