March Madness

If you want to see the unconcealed essence of American higher education in action, pay attention to one simple contrast: As the coronavirus spreads, universities across the land are either closing or contemplating closure. But “closure” doesn’t quite mean closure; it means “continuity of instruction” for the duration of the public health crisis. So faculty and staff are struggling to convert on-ground classes to an online format, in order to maintain “continuity of instruction.” Not easy, not fun, but necessary.

Meanwhile, take a look at the NCAA, at its regional conferences, and at institutional athletics programs. As of 10 am on March 11, not a single word about the coronavirus at any of these sites.* No schedule changes. No cancellation of “March Madness” (which has already begun). The baseball and softball teams of my university are still away in Florida, playing a tournament.

Im sorry Im sending this out so late but I i have missed classed and will continue to miss class do to the fact that I am in Florida with the baseball team. Thank you for understanding and anything that I have missed will be done

No, for intercollegiate athletics, the games must go on, the teams must play on, and the brackets must be laid out, coronavirus or not. There’s dollars to be made and an image to be upheld–along with dollars to be spent, and dollars to be thrown away. What kind of idiot would let a mere public health crisis interfere with that?

I mention this for all those right-wing critics of the academy who think that higher education is driven by the imperatives of left-wing political correctness. Is the NCAA a left-wing organization? Are its regional conferences? Are university coaches (or “student-athletes”) easily mistaken for left-wing political activists? Not really. So how is it that they alone proceed untouched by the panic slowly overtaking the rest of us?

Maybe it’s testament to their robust vitality? The truth is, like cockroaches during a nuclear winter, intercollegiate athletics can survive anything–sex scandals, losing seasons, budget cuts, pandemics. Anyone genuinely worried about the state of American higher education would be worried about that. Naturally, most of the loudest hand-wringers aren’t–the right-wing higher ed ideologues being the loudest of all. In this respect, right-wing higher ed ideologues are like slumlords presiding over the cheapest housing in town. Slumlords aren’t bothered by the cockroaches in your apartment; ideologues aren’t worried about the functional equivalent in your university. To expect them to criticize college athletics would be like expecting an association of slumlords to criticize an infestation.


*I’m sure this will change soon, and all three will suddenly profess to a belated “concern” about the pandemic that none of them have, or need to have. But even as everyone else is being criticized for the inadequacy of their efforts in dealing with the coronavirus, college athletics seems to have escaped scrutiny altogether.

7 thoughts on “March Madness

  1. Gee, was it something I said? I post at 10 am, and by evening they’ve got a response.

    https://www.ncaa.com/live-updates/basketball-men/d1/latest-impact-coronavirus-ncaa-di-mens-and-womens-basketball?utm_campaign=trending

    To be fair to the NCAA, if I had looked harder, I would have found the previous statements on the coronavirus on their website. Granted, these statements didn’t say much of anything, but I have to admit that they were statements.

    CACC’s still going strong, though–the veritable honey badgers of college athletics.

    https://www.caccathletics.org/landing/index

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  2. More unintentionally comical contrasts. The NCAA is going strong, but the NBA has suspended its season:

    I guess the NBA is minor league compared with the NCAA. More proof that the NCAA should go pro.

    And then there’s the contrast between the serenity of college sports and the chaos of res life:

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  3. I revel in my power:

    Of course, while I may have induced the NCAA to cancel March Madness, I don’t seem to have affected the CACC, whose game schedule remains what it was when I wrote this post.

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  4. Even the CACC seems to have figured out the score:

    https://www.caccathletics.org/sports/General/COVID-19

    Sure took them awhile. But then, there are college campuses where classes were being held as late as 9 pm tonight. I’ve heard of one institution (not my own) that’s demanding that its counseling psychology students do practicum hours during the coronavirus outbreak. Such behavior is irresponsible insanity, but it’s unlikely anyone will have to answer for it.

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  5. Pingback: Coronavirus Diary (5): Vox Populi | Policy of Truth

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