Defending Kentucky -- Again

Kent Sterling of 1070 TheFan in Indianapolis went and defended his unethical rant against Kentucky basketball again the other day.  The comment system on their blog is irretrievably broken, so I will make my response here.  Thanks to Bluegrass State Basketball for bringing it to my attention.

Sterling makes the following points about the arguments that UK fans apparently threw back at his original piece:

1: Racism before 1970 is okay because everyone was a racist back then
2. Cheating is okay because everyone does it
3. Winning is the most important thing in college basketball
4. John Calipari bears no responsibility for UMass or Memphis issuers that led to their Final Four appearances being stricken

I'll take those on, plus the rest, after the jump.

  1.  Racism before 1970 is okay because everyone was a racist back then.

    Racism was never okay, but the charge of racism against Adolph Rupp is both unfair and largely inaccurate.  I would also point out that there is nobody associated with Adolph Rupp's regime currently in the UK leadership, and we have had a black basketball head coach and will shortly have a black football head coach, one of relatively few FBS schools in America who can say that.

    Is Mr. Sterling really willing to demonstrate the same loathing for everyone in America who had views back in the 1950's and before we would consider racist now?  I do wonder if his own attitudes, assuming he was alive back then, would survive the same scrutiny? 

    Does the passing of time and changing of attitudes mean nothing?  Even if we uncritically accept his assertion that UK was institutionally racist in the Rupp Era (which I don't), why is his scorn reserved only for Kentucky and not include other schools around the land who had the same problem at the same time?  That's unfair, and unfair always equals unethical.

  2. Cheating is okay because everybody does it.

    This is a case of Mr. Sterling twisting the words of his commenters.  What most of the commenters were really saying is, "Why single out Kentucky for cheating when many other schools have cheated also?"  That is not the same thing as Mr. Sterling accuses them of.  Sterling is being unfair again.

    Cheating is always reprehensible and unethical, and Kentucky has done more than its share of cheating.  But Mr. Sterling is saying that UK's past cheating, which is 20 years in the rear-view mirror, mean that it will cheat again and intends to do so with John Calipari.  That is not only the logical fallacy known as the "Gambler's Fallacy," but it is intentionally unfair to UK and imputes ill intent not whatsoever in evidence.  The cheaters were fired and replaced.  UK has been clean a long time.  How is this not a credit to UK, rather than a warning sign?  Kent Sterling cannot tell us, because his only interest is in attacking Kentucky, not decrying cheating.

  3. Winning is the most important thing in college basketball.

    It absolutely is.  That is demonstrable by the fact that so many institutions pay millions of dollars to coaches to win games.  Vince Lombardi's famous quote, "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?" would seem to apply.  That does not mean winning by any means is defensible.  It does not mean that graduating players (something Calipar's record is very strong on) does not matter.  It does not mean cheating is okay as long as you win and don't get caught.

    But the money tells the tale.  Should it be that way?  No, in my opinion.  But even if Sterling and I may not like it, it is a fact.

  4. John Calipari bears no responsibility for UMass or Memphis issuers that led to their Final Four appearances being stricken.

    Responsibility cannot exist without control, or where deception exists (this obviously does not include self-deception or incompetence).  In the case of UMass, Calipari was deceived by Camby, and his association with agents carefully hidden from the coach and the school.  When Calipari found out, he reported Camby's actions to the NCAA.  Calipari faithfully discharged his duties as coach in this case, and is innocent of wrongdoing.  Mr. Sterling's attempt to paint him as being responsible regardless of the circumstances is again unfair, and hence, unethical.

    In the Rose case, the NCAA assumed responsibility for the qualification of Derrick Rose to play college basketball by its establishment of the NCAA Clearinghouse.  Rose's alleged cheating happened before he enrolled at Memphis, and before Coach Calipari could fairly be assumed to have control of the player, not to mention the fact that the alleged cheating occurred in Detroit, not in Memphis.

    If Memphis had been responsible for determining the veractity of college entrance exams for student athletes, some responsibility might be rationally imputed to Memphis and Calipari.  Since the NCAA assumed that responsibility for itself, neither Memphis nor Calipari can be held in any way responsible for Rose's alleged misconduct, and the NCAA findings do not find that Memphis behaved improperly -- rather, they applied the doctrine of strict liability, rendering a finding of responsibility irrelevant.

    The fact that the NCAA did not implicate John Calipari in either case is further proof that they understand what a coach should be responsible for, even if people like Sterling apparently don't.

Sterling goes on to say this:

Thanks to the people of Kentucky for the education.  Situational ethics should be embraced, and hating people because of the color of their skin is acceptable when everyone else thinks it.  Okay, I've seen the light.  I'm ready to move to Kentucky and erect signs welcoming others to the Blue Grass State - "Now Entering Kentucky - Proud Home of Racists (prior to 1970); Ethics Conveniently Optional".

You know, I don't think I need to point out what is wrong with this paragraph, but I will anyway.  There is a verse in the Bible that says, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

Before commenting on the ethical faux pas of others, it's fairly important you make sure you are not doing so in an unethical manner.  Sterling's two diatribes violate many tenets of ethics, not the least of which is fairness, civility, self-restraint, equity, forgiveness and a process that fairly looks at all sides of the issues on which he is commenting.

Sterling's sarcasm, deliberately fallacious reasoning and lack of enabling virtues (fairness, civility, self-restraint, equity, forgiveness, etc.) display the complete failure of his own ethics in this article.  His comments are intentionally vile, and should be rejected by reasonable sports fans.

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