ESPN.com is reporting that seven Catholic basketball powers are talking about leaving the Big East. It’s a little late for that, since the Big East left them years ago, opting for football bowl money and damaging the heritage of the conference.
There’s nothing left – a bunch of strangers in a cuckoo conference, sending softball players and soccer players on long plane rides for conference matches, spending fortunes to justify incoming fortunes from the football television pool.
It’s all gone wrong. The presidents of the seven schools should take a deep breath and get out. The original partners slipped out the door years ago, leaving a bunch of strangers lounging around the premises with more strangers on the way. Have a little pride. Get out.
The survivors cannot leave out of sheer nostalgia. Eddie Pinckney and Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin are not coming back to play in one of the most amazing Final Fours ever – 1985. In less than a decade, they created one of the great basketball conferences ever, but then television football loot made everybody crazy.
They need a new model. They could call it the Northeast Quadrant Catholic Basketball We-Know-Who-We-Are Conference. Stick to the business of offering a focused education on essentially urban campuses.
Big-time hoops are still a risky business for St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Providence, Villanova, DePaul and Marquette, but at least they can get back to a more clear self-image and not get over their heads in football, with its gigantic rosters, bowl shenanigans, concussion legacies and recruiting frenzies.
Know thyself. The Ivy League has been stable forever. New York University gave up the big time, all for the better. City College educates New Yorkers rather than entertain gamblers and strangers. Nobody’s ever persuaded me what big-time sports have to do with education, anyway.
Big-time basketball is still something of a dance with, you should pardon the expression, the devil. But the football arrangement was blatantly Faustian.
If the survivors turn out the lights on the Big East as they go out the door, it doesn’t matter. The party’s over.
The ESPN story: http://espn.go.com/new-york/college-sports/story/_/id/8742607/seven-catholic-schools-leaning-leaving-big-east-sources-say
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.