The Good, the Bad, and the Unhinged

The headline at the top of the article reads, "Who The Hell is Kent Sterling?"  I don't know, but I can tell you that he is among the most bigoted and truly mindless Kentucky detractors I have come across in a while.  His effort today is one of the most odious and solipsistic articles ever to assail my vision.

I am used to reading people who post diatribes about Kentucky.  They usually lack the ability to coherently compose a sentence, much less an original thought.  In this case, we have a guy who is at least able to do the former, so his diatribe isn't simply the ranting of a mindless, jort-wearing inbread creep with a shoe-sized IQ. Instead, it is far worse -- a relatively well-written spew of bilious loathing that repeats all the worst myths and legends about Kentucky basketball as though they were holy writ.

"Why," you may ask, "do you feel the need to defend such tripe?"  I really can't say.  I suppose it is just a weakness that I have the reflexive urge to debunk falsehoods and faux logic when it his hurled at my favorite school.  It is tilting at windmills, to be sure, but after all, this is a sports blog, and like all sports fans, I bristle at unfair abuse heaped on my team.

So if you are so inclined and have the time, read on as I attempt to respond to this claptrap -- but I wouldn't blame you if you decided your time was better spent elsewhere.

So we start with this, the opening paragraph:

Kentucky has a history of cheating, and there is little doubt it will continue under the stewardship of John Calipari.  It's hard to question the corruption of an athletic department when they sign a basketball coach to the richest per year contract in college hoops within a few days of the coach's school being stripped of a Final Four appearance by the NCAA.

There is no doubt he is right that UK has had a history of cheating.  These past indiscretions are often offered as proof that UK will repeat this behavior more quickly than other schools might.  What he fails to recognize, or even consider, is that UK has been clean of NCAA violations in its basketball program for over 20 years.  At some point, that matters.

What is not right is asserting the corruption of the athletic department for signing Calipari.  There is a reason Calipari was not included in the charges by the NCAA against either Memphis, or against UMass.  His failure to recognize that fact demonstrates bigotry toward Kentucky and unfair bias against Calipari.  It is unfair because Calipari is innocent of wrongdoing as far as anyone, including this writer, knows.  His failure to even acknowledge that is dishonest, unfair, and unethical.

I am not suggesting Calipari has never behaved unethically -- I'm sure he has, we all do.  What I am saying is that none of the incidents he cites support that claim.

Kentucky has a rich and corrupt basketball tradition.  Point shaving in the 1950s, racism from the beginning of time until 1969 when Adolph Rupp finally recruited a black player.  Boosters paid UK players under Joe B. Hall, according to so many anecdotal reports they are impossible to ignore.  One story from a person who was in the room is that Sam Bowie, who was having a tough time playing cards in a hotel room before the 1979 McDonald's All-America Game, made a call and a shoebox with $5,000 in it was at the door of the room in 15 minutes.  Boosters.

Again, he starts off with facts.  Kentucky has been caught in several corruption scandals occasionally throughout the years, and I won't even attempt to defend that.

What is unethical is his libelous repeating of rumors against Joe B. Hall, a man who was never credibly accused by anyone of wrongdoing while coach at Kentucky.  He also libels coach Rupp and the University of Kentucky for racism "from the beginning of time," something that has been widely debunked over the years by people doing actual research into the matter.  I will not say that Rupp never had a racist thought or never said something racially insensitive -- like virtually every other human being I know, I'm sure he did, and I am not trying to excuse that behavior in him, me, or anyone else.

I will also point out, for the record, that UK has had a black head coach in basketball, and will soon have one in football, one of the very few schools in FBS to ever achieve such a milestone.  Even if we accepted, uncritically, his charge of racism in the 1950's (which I won't), what possible relevance does that have now?

But there is far more to the story than this author's simplistic statement, and the interested fan who is not steeped in Kentucky tradition can read about it at the above link and judge for themselves.  But no matter what, the charge of racism against Adolph Rupp, in the context of his time and life is not a fact, nor is it supported by the preponderance of the evidence.

Now, Calipari's indifference (at best) to the NCAA rules have destroyed the legacies of two teams have been rewarded with the keys to Kentucky's castle, named after a virulent racist.  He has recruited a bunch of potential one-and-done kids, most had committed to Memphis before Calipari ran away from the mess he had caused for the Tigers.  Although he didn't so much run from Memphis as sprint to Kentucky.

Again, this is libelous because it is demonstrably false.  Calipari was the one who reported Marcus Camby's violation to the NCAA when he discovered it.  "Indifference" is an ironic choice of words to this writer, who is utterly indifferent to the facts which refute his fictional ramblings.

He completely fails to note the fact that Calipari was hoping for a call from Kentucky in 2007 before Rose ever came to Memphis.  He completely ignores the fact that nobody has ever proven Rose engaged in wrongdoing.  The worst thing that can be said about Calipari in the entire Rose matter was that he failed to ensure that Rose's brother, Reggie, was properly billed for travel on the team plane.  In fact is fair to criticize Calipari for ever allowing that travel arrangement to begin with.  That responsibility can arguably be imputed, in part, to Calipari, although the NCAA chose not to do so.

Is it unfair to indict the UK freshmen based on the crimes committed by others?  I don't think so.  These kids and their parents walked into Calipari's office with their eyes wide open, and should have a reasonable expectation that what happened at UMass and Memphis is damn likely to occur in Lexington.  What would motivate Calipari to do anything other than what he's been rewarded for - winning regardless of the cost to the schools who write enormous checks?  Why would a family with a meal ticket of a basketball player who will never stay in school long enough to get a degree give a shit about the school for which they play?  They're all going to the league, right?  They'll all make millions, and buy cars and houses for their families, right?  So who gives a shit about the University of Kentucky?

Of all the offenses I have categorized so far, this paragraph represents the most egregious and wrong.  John Calipari has never been credibly accused by anyone of wrongdoing.  Why would parents expect anything but the best from a man who has consistently delivered it, fairly and honestly?

I won't go into his success at graduating players from college, or teaching them responsibility, or improving the condition of some pretty marginal players to NBA status along with their college degrees.  They are matters of public record which can be had with a simple Google search.

Another thing this lower form of life fails to recognize is that we, the fans and alumni of the school, "give a shit" about the University of Kentucky.  If he thinks we are going to allow John Calipari or anyone else to wreck this school's reputation, he is either sick with jealousy or too deeply steeped in irrational hate to even check on UK's perfect compliance record in basketball with respect to major violations since the late 1980's -- something that did not happen by accident.

What he is saying here is that the parents of these children only care about money, and not about how the coach gets it for them.  That is a sad commentary on this author's dark and miserable soul, and I think that Patrick Patterson would never play for such a person for any length of time if Calipari were guilty as charged.  I know Patterson's parents would object to such a person.  That's all the proof I need of the unfairness of this accusation, but to be honest, it proves nothing objectively. 

But the fact that Calipari has never been accused by the NCAA of a violation in his life is much more dispositive.

If this has rambled a little bit, it's only because I loathe cheats and thinking about Kentucky achieving any success with Calipari coaching makes my damn blood boil.  Never write angry, I keep telling myself.  Maybe tomorrow I'll listen.

His final paragraph is instructive.  If he loathes cheats, as he claims, he must loathe half the NCAA Division I.  In fact, I am trying to think of even one major school who has not had a violation at some point in history, and cannot.  He mentions Butler, and I think they have not, but then again, they aren't exactly a household word when it comes to college basketball, in spite of some recent success. 

But that is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that his loathing is either based on incomplete facts which he deliberately chooses not to elucidate, or a simple, uncritical belief in the most negative things that one can read about Kentucky from its detractors

This castigation of Kentucky is classic in many ways, pointing out the flaws in Kentucky's history and claiming that this behavior can be imputed to the future.  In logic, this is known as the "Gambler's Fallacy."  It is the easiest way for fans of inferior programs to elevate themselves above UK -- if they can't do it on the court, they just yell, "YOU CHEATED, AND WILL CHEAT AGAIN!", and claim moral superiority.

No Kentucky fan is proud of our school's ethical lapses, and I won't excuse them here.  With that said, this man's dishonest recitation of rumor, innuendo and outright falsehood as fact in his effort to indict a program that doesn't live up to perfection is utterly and irredeemably unethical and wrong. 

He should be ashamed, but he won't be.  He is incapable of seeing past his detestation.  Hell of a way to live.

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