Do you care?
You care about this situation at Ole Miss? It concerns you that some college football players in Mississippi benefited from being college football players in a manner deemed “improper” by a pile of cement and self-preservation known as “the NCAA?”
Because I’m out. I’m no longer capable of caring about these things. There have been so many of them, and they all end the same way, and nothing ever really happens.
This time, I tried. I tried to look into the allegations at Ole Miss and feel something. I wanted to be mad at Student Athlete 39 for the inconsistencies in his testimony. I attempted to be troubled that Student Athlete 14 received some impermissible assistance in securing a place to live. And what about Booster 2’s role in all this?
Despite my best efforts, my lather of indignation kept washing off.
If I were a fan of Ole Miss or a rival school, I supposed I’d care about this. But even then I’d only care about the punishment. Most of the alleged crimes, which of course are not crimes at all, are as predictable as they are banal — some players got some money. The NCAA can declare all it wants that a scholarship and room and board are just compensation for these men, but that does nothing to change their actual value to college football programs. You may declare the value of your toaster to be $100,000, but you will be unable to trade it for that. Similarly, the NCAA may declare the value of a college football player to be whatever it costs to send one to college, but everyone knows otherwise, and so the real values are revealed on the black market, and occasionally in unnecessarily pedantic documents wherein the NCAA strikes the pose of some sort of legal authority. In most cases, it seems you can get a pretty good college football player for a scholarship, a decent apartment, and some walking around money (your mileage may vary).
For a long time, the NCAA could put on that costume and everyone would play along. And it’s true that college athletics need some kind of governing body, and anything short of a completely free market for players will always result in some manner of hall monitoring from that governing body.
“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “the only crime is getting caught.” So, sure, Ole Miss got caught. Fine.
Are we done, here?