Einstein's theory of relativity was challenged this year. Something that the scientific community has held as a foregone conclusion is now under scrutiny from minds who on the surface seem to be the greatest there are out there, is now being brought into question as possibly being wrong. Is this progress? Is this the world continuing to evolve and turn itself into more than it once was?
In the last few months and weeks we have seen college athletics undergo something of a metamorphosis of it's own. Not into something completely new, but more like something different. Being ultra competitive has always been the hallmark of college sports. Rah rah, sis-boom-bah started long ago, before anyone realized what it could become. So, would anyone from the earliest days of college athletics glory look now upon what it has become and shake their heads in disgust and utter disdain for what is now the world we live in and all of it's antipathy for some semblance of decency? Would Knute Rockne stand up and cry foul at what he saw today? Would the behavior of today's so-called "premier" institutions of higher learning give him pause?
Would Abner Doubleday look upon the steroids era as a "blip" on the radar? Would he find himself staggered by the level of cheating and abuse in the game that he created which at one point became "America's Pastime"?
What about Ty Cobb? Would "The Meanest Man Ever To Play The Game" look upon baseball now and find himself amazed at what is now considered acceptable behavior?
And Dr. James Naismith? How would he view today's world of toxic millionaires in the NBA squabbling with their multi-billion dollar valued owners and wonder how it all came to be? How could a round leather sack of air and a couple of peach baskets turn into the disgusting behaviors we have seen lately?
Walter Camp? Could he have forseen the goings on today in football? Would he be amazed and disgusted by the behaviors of those running the Penn St. University and its football program?
I called my article "At What Price Glory?" and then directed it towards college athletics, and now it seems I have convoluted it with professional athletics, in much the same manner as the world has done. The lines are blurred so much now that it all seems to be one huge conglomerate of misbehavior, miscreants, and mistakes. The NCAA oversees its disaster of a sinking ship when it comes to setting and creating an atmosphere that promotes doing the right thing instead of punishing the multitude of wrong doers in their little world which means so much to all of us as fans.
But the NCAA pales in comparison to actual illegal activities which now have reared their ugly heads. Ohio State getting slapped with a "failure to monitor" charge while Cam Newton, fresh off his Auburn season of triumph sits in elegance and cashes his million dollar paychecks weekly just adds to the surreal atmosphere which makes playing basketball on the deck of an aircraft carrier a joke in the overall scheme of things. So where does it all end? Is the price that is paid, sometimes by innocents who are nothing more than young fans of those who sit in power and do nothing to make things any better too high?
I see video and pictures of those who played under former PSU Head Coach Joe Paterno who are amazed, distraught that this has happened to him, but of those people, very few say word one about the victims of Jerry Sandusky, or denounce his behavior. NBA players tweet all day long about wanting to "just play ball", yet they hide behind the process instead of speaking out about changing the things that are wrong when grown men are sitting in a room fighting over % points of billions of dollars that they get paid to play a game. And their negotiations hold consequences for the kids in college as well.
Coach John Calipari is building a new empire here at Kentucky by making this school all about the players, and what is best for them. I applaud his efforts, because based on what I see, no one out there is doing anything to try and stem the tide of pandering and worse being perpetrated by others in his profession in an effort to grab their own brass ring. I hope he can instill some of what he promotes to those young men. I hope he takes the time to explain to those kids that as much as they may be looking at very bright futures, they are also looking at a pit of leeches, lowlifes, and scum that seek to profit and more from any mistake or misplaced trust those young men have. I hope he continues to look for kids like Brandon Knight who have a firm grasp on what they want, and balance that with what they need. I hope he can return some luster to the tarnished profession he is a member of.
Yet, for all of the bowing and worshipping at the alter of "Filthy Lucre" , it seems bizarre to me that a man of John Calipari's unearned reputation becomes the shining knight of his own world. Once looked upon with disdain, and still by some, he now appears to have created a haven for those kids who want to learn, who want to make themselves better at their chosen craft, and who want to become better men.
What concerns me now is that other folks have sought to do the same. John Wooden, Bobby Knight, Joe Paterno, are all representatives of men who seemed to lose their way in an effort to create a legacy, even if it was not their original plan to do so. Please, Coach Cal, be wary of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. Because they are all around, and could end up being someone you trust with everything you hold dear. And as much as you may be all about making kids and men better, there are going to be those out there who you just can't help, no matter how much you try. Don't let them do to you what they have done to others. Don't let your quest for creating a utopia for everyone to look up to cloud your judgement when it comes to scrutinizing those whom you trust with those young men's well being. I want UK to be the greatest shining example of all that is good in the world of college athletics, no matter what it's critics may say. But I think that was also the goal of Joe Paterno at Penn State. Seems the road to hell is paved with good intentions after all.