Russell and Duenes

Kentucky Is A Joke and So Are Many Major “Student” Athletics

with 4 comments

I confess I’ve lost almost all interest in college basketball, and college sports in general. I still watch here and there because I enjoy sports, but my heart’s not in it at all. Sure, part of it is that other interests besides sports have needed my attention (e.g., having 4 kids under age 8), but the essential fraud of college sports has really done a number on me.

I’m not sure why my level of cynicism has increased so much in recent years, for it’s not as if corruption, cheating and academic fraud are anything new to the NCAA. I suppose my general dislike for John Calipari and the undefeated NBA team he’s got over there at Kentucky have pushed me over the edge. I don’t care what he or anyone else says: Kentucky’s basketball program is a fraud and a disgrace to Kentucky as an “academic” institution, and so are all the other programs just like it. You simply don’t admit “students” to your school who are clearly non-students destined for the NBA in a year or two.

Of course this pertains not just to college basketball, but all major college sports, which is why I’ve watched so little of it recently. Maybe I’m a blowhard for saying so, and I’m taking myself too seriously. But I’ve always been a big sports fan, and having graduated from UCLA, college basketball has run in my veins to some degree. Yet if it was UCLA who was 31-0, rather than Kentucky, I honestly believe my disinterest would be virtually the same. It’s just a joke. I know many others say this, but major college sports are little more than a minor league system for the big leagues, and academics doesn’t really come into it. These sports point up the general academic fraudulence that, in my view, permeates large portions of university undergraduate life.

Yes, the caveat needs to be made that there are plenty of athletes on NCAA athletic scholarships who major in engineering or some other challenging major and will take their academics seriously. I understand that, but I don’t think it changes the overall picture of major college sports, which is a huge money-making industry. ESPN’s Jay Bilas pretty much said it all in commenting on the NCAA’s “punishment” handed down to Syracuse recently: “People think, ‘What’ll happen is, schools will now recruit the lesser athlete, but the better student.’ They don’t do that. They’re not going to recruit the lesser athlete. They’re going to recruit the best athlete. That’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to win games and get athletes to play.” End of story.

On another sports related note, last night I watched one of the most stunning documentaries on the football brain damage issue I’ve ever seen: The October 8, 2013, PBS “Frontline” episode on “the NFL’s concussion crisis,” League of Denial, which you can watch here. If you find yourself wanting to watch something for about an hour-and-a-half, I’d highly recommend this. Indeed, I’d watch it again, it was that well done.

I had already pretty much decided that I didn’t want any of my boys playing football in their youth, but this cemented it. Former New York Giant and NFL Hall of Famer, Harry Carson, made the case all by himself in this film. And the pack of lies and obfuscation the NFL has promulgated, and continues to put forth, in my view, is just appalling. Anyone who has watched the NFL with an ounce of common sense can tell you that the NFL’s “doctors” were full of it.

Which got me thinking of something related to our culture’s cult of “science” in general. We’re told ad nauseum that science is “based on fact” and tells us the truth, while religion and morality is just a bunch of “opinion.” Science is “evidence based” because we observe things objectively. So we should all put our unwavering faith in science. Yet it was abundantly clear that observation and “evidence” meant nothing to the NFL and its doctors. They didn’t want to hear it. In other words, for the modern scientific enterprise to have any validity at all, it presupposes and depends on a bunch of non-scientific things, two of which are high regard for truth-telling and open-mindedness. Such values are not scientific and don’t come from science. Rather, they are pre-scientific metaphysical and spiritual necessities. Without them, there is no science. The human element cannot be removed, and scientists, particularly the NFL’s scientists, all have their personal, economic and other commitments, which were on full display. The documentary was sobering on so many levels. My wife was riveted, and she watches about 15 minutes of football during the Superbowl each year and that’s it.



Written by Michael Duenes

March 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Wait a minute. You had me in full agreement until the end. My first hesitation came when you said ” cult of science” — I was like: Didn’t mean mean “cult of sport”?

    If this was a story about a “cult of science” then what was the cult’s agenda? It’s the NFL and the cult of sport that brought the agenda, and all the remained was to find some bad scientists. On the science side of things, THIS story is about bad scientists, not a cult of science.

    But then… I was thinking about what this compares to. If you compare this to the evolution debate, then who has the agenda: scientists or religious folks. Okay, you can say both.

    But who has the cultish agenda in the evolution debate (and other debates going on)? Well, you can still say both, but it’s harder to pin that one on scientists. The religious folks will tell you straight up that they have a predisposition to believe one thing (and some, like you, have outright said they will believe it even if proven wrong).

    The scientists, on the other hand, have a variety of religious beliefs (and many are Christians), and have a variety of agendas — and yet most agree on evolution (as the most likely theory), global warming, and many other things no one disputes.

    It’s almost freakish how some Christians deny global warming.

    So what is more cultish: the concerted opinions of the general community of scientists or the absolute resistance to their conclusions (and the enlistment of their own scientists) on the part of some Christians?

    Andy Gray

    March 9, 2015 at 6:19 am

  2. Andy. I never said what you ascribe to me about “believing it even if proven wrong.” But leaving that aside, I agree there’s a cult of sport involved, but I think my main point was simply to say that our cult of science culture treats science as if it involved nothing outside of science, like metaphysics. And it’s just not true. Further, to demonstrate that there’s a cult of science in this country far stronger than anything “religious folks” have going, just turn on the TV and see who makes the authoritative pronouncements: the guy in the collar or the guy in the lab coat.

    – D

    russell and duenes

    March 9, 2015 at 7:20 pm

  3. Actually, it might rather be an athlete or a celebrity or someone who is simply famous for having titillating opinions… Scientists are occasionally center-stage, but do we (or even purely secular people) really respect them? Heck, do Christians overall really respect what Jesus said when it comes to the details of how to live?

    As for believing something even if proven wrong, that goes back to this discussion ( all the way back in 2009 (found by Googling “duenes evolution bates andy”). Looking back at your comments then, maybe I overstated what I said, or not. Of course, you aren’t bound to what you said back then.

    “I could believe in an old earth if the evidence came to that, but I could never believe that mankind has sprung from simpler species over time through a gradual process of mutation and evolution. Whatever one’s interpretation of Genesis, one HAS to believe that at some point human beings are a unique creation of God, separate from all other creatures, alone “in God’s image.” Lose this, and you’ve lost the Bible. So I would not expect to find science going against this, and if I did, I would expect that I’ve read the scientific evidence wrongly. Everyone has to start with a priori assumptions, and we have to be honest about them.”

    Andy Gray

    March 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    • I don’t disavow the quote, but the quote isn’t saying that I’d believe in something even if proven wrong. It’s saying that there is something I could never believe in because that something could never be proven. Godless Darwinian evolution can never be proven, and so I’ll never believe in it. There’s no possibility that one day evidence will show up that there’s no God and we all got here by godless forces of random chance and natural selection. One need not remain open to “being proven wrong” about all things. This is a question of epistemology. Indeed, if Darwinian evolution were “proved right,” that would be the end of proof, for it would be the end of thought. Random aglomulations of chemicals and molecules, which is all we’d be, given Darwin’s theory, don’t think. They just react. Matter in motion, baby.

      – D

      russell and duenes

      March 10, 2015 at 4:07 am

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