Saturday, March 16, 2013

No joy in Mudville

I've been watching Louisville play Syracuse in the championship game of the Big East basketball tournament. It is a piece of history and an occasion of great sadness. After this game, the Big East will be no more, kaput, finished, over. What a shame.

The first defections from the Big East were Virginia Tech and Boston College to the AAC (ok, if you don't follow college sports enough to know AAC is the Atlantic Coast Conference then the rest of this is going to get more and more arcane and un-understandable....) Boston College is in a conference that all the other schools are below the Mason-Dixon line in Confederate states. God help us.

Notre Dame was a part of the Big East in everything but Football. If they'd played football in the Big East the Big East would still be the Big East. You see, lot's of what was the Big East were Roman Catholic Schools that didn't play big time football--St. John's, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Providence, like that. But MONEY (from here on out to be signified by $, runs college sports. So football schools like Virginia Tech and Boston College left first. That's why if Notre Dame, a part of the Big East except for football had played football with the other Big East football schools--West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, Boston College, Rutgers, UConn and Virginia Tech, the Big East would be a healthy Football conference and an incredible basketball Conference. Why didn't Notre Dame do that? Need you ask, $. They stayed 'independent' in football and had their own TV contract with CBS.

So, all the football schools started looking elsewhere for $. VT and BC jumped. My school, WVU, joined the Big Twelve, which makes no sense since all those schools are in the heartland and WVU is, for god's sake, in West Virginia. Pitt and Syracuse are gone after this year to the ACC. Get serious, Pittsburgh and Syracuse is about as on the Atlantic Coast as Tennessee. So, college sports, that should be about regional rivalries has become 'continental' because of, well you know--$.

Georgetown's basketball coach, John Thompson III, who followed his father, John Thompson, Jr. as coach of the team, said something that made more sense to me than almost anything else coming out of Washington, DC (where Georgetown is) than I've heard in a long time. "For a few more dollars," he said, "this amazing conference could have been saved."

There's the rub. A few more $ seems to control, not only college sports, but most everything these days.

What happened to being a part of a community, a part of a region? WVU plays sports with people in Texas and Oklahoma and  Iowa rather than people in PA and VA and DC and CT and MA. Makes no sense at all...unless 'what makes sense' these days is $ and ONLY $.

Which, beloved, I believe, much to my chagrin, is true, true, True, really true....

My wife, Bern, who is a bigger sports fan than me, has adored, almost worshiped the Big East every year for year after year. She couldn't watch the end of the Louisville/Syracuse game tonight because Reality will never be the same again.

What a shame.

It is a shame when $ dominates geography, rivalries and traditions. It really is.

We are diminished when all that we love is driven by nothing more than $.

Poor UConn, our state team who is dominate in basketball (both men and women) and seeking to make an impression in Football, what are they to do....?"

"The world is too much with us,
getting and spending...."

College sports don't have the same attraction they did a few years ago. And that is sad.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.