Monday, December 27, 2010

Another reason to not watch professional sports

Are you excited about the Sugar Bowl, a college football "bowl" game set to be played on January 4th? You are? Well, that's how people can tell us apart. Why would I -- why would anyone? -- give their support to corrupt organizations like the NCAA, or the colleges that participate in the games?

Case in point: Ohio State football players sanctioned. Next season, five players for the Ohio State football team ("the Buckeyes"), will be forced to sit out five games for... get ready for it...

Selling things that they owned.

And. Get ready for it...

Negotiating a price for tattoos.

Five games these kids have to sit out for participating in the free market system. I am not exaggerating. That is literally what happened.
["Star quarterback" Terrelle] Pryor and four teammates were suspended Thursday by the NCAA for the first five games of next season for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards. They also received improper benefits -- from up to two years ago -- from the tattoo parlor and its owner.
They are athletes who play for the university's football team. Apparently, they do well enough to be presented with awards. These awards are their own, are they not?
Pryor even sold a sportsmanship award from the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, along with his 2008 Big Ten championship ring. More egregious to Ohio State fans, he sold a "gold pants" trinket -- an iconic charm given to players who are a part of a victory over archrival Michigan. He may not be easily forgiven by Buckeyes fans who revere such traditions. Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling the three items.

His teammates also sold Big Ten championship rings -- the Buckeyes have won the past six conference titles -- plus football jerseys, pants and shoes.
So they sold items that belonged to them. For that, they are being punished.


As for the tattoos:
[Daniel] Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.

[Devier] Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50.

[Mike] Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring. Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 gold pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.

A sixth player, freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting, who received a discount on tattoos, must sit out the first game of the 2011 season and pay $150 to a charity.
Apparently, "receiving discounted services" is a crime. But all they did was negotiate with the tattoo artists who drew on their arms. Were these artists forced to give these "discounted" tattoos? Or did they freely decide that they wanted to give these student athletes tattoos at a rate that might or might not have been the same as that which is charged to civilians?

Apparently, there are some who are upset about this -- not about the fact that it is "against the rules" for student athletes to sell items that they own, but that they weren't punished enough for it:
Thursday at Ohio State, we learned that five players -- many of them stars -- didn't know it was a no-no to sell championship rings, game gear and personal awards for cash. Why didn't they know? According to the NCAA release, the players "did not receive adequate rules education" from the school at the time of the transgressions, which occurred in 2009. That plausible (or implausible, if you prefer) deniability will allow all five to play in the Buckeyes' Allstate Sugar Bowl showdown with Arkansas on Jan. 4.

So there you have it, future NCAA rules breakers of America (and your parents). Go for the gold. When you get caught, shrug and say, "Why, I had no idea." Blame it on your dad and/or a negligent compliance staff at your university.

The NCAA dropped the hammer on the Buckeyes -- quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Daniel "Boom" Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas -- for 2011. They're all suspended for the first five games next year.

But the hammer only hurts if there's someone there to feel it hit. We'll see how many of the five salesmen are still Buckeyes by next season. I'll set the over/under at 1.
The NCAA has done it again, producing a ruling that defies common sense and provokes suspicions about ulterior motives. Even as the organization has taken admirable steps in terms of aggressive enforcement and attempted transparency, it still has a unique ability to leave the public baffled and skeptical.
In the open-and-shut Ohio State case, the NCAA is delaying punishment long enough for the Buckeyes to play in another game that packs a huge revenues-and-ratings payload.

The We Didn't Know defense was cited by the NCAA as one mitigating factor in this decision. Another was the fact that postseason play provides a "unique opportunity" and is "evaluated differently" when it comes to suspensions, according to an NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement policy that was enacted in 2004.
(Nice joke in there about the "over/under." How does this columnist feel about student gambling?)

This is a stupid rule. The rule shouldn't exist. Colleges like Ohio State and organizations like the NCAA make gobs of money from the performance of these athletes, who are held to such incredible standards that they're not even allowed to sell things they own, nor can they negotiate or barter with service providers for a lower price.

Football is a brutal sport. It does astonishingly terrible things to the athletes' bodies. They have only a small window during which they can play. If they are lucky they get to go pro in the NFL, but most aren't lucky. They spend a few years living with the capricious and nonsensical rules set by wealthy men who are concerned only with ensuring they get the best television deal (literally billions of dollars!). But selling a championship ring for a few thousand dollars?... that's just wrong.

Anyway, that is why I don't watch professional sports.

If you actually earned it, you can't sell it. You'll get suspended.

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