Friday, October 10, 2014

A shrug of a violation

Good heavens. For a second there, I thought Georgia running back Todd Gurley had done something really bad.

The headline, after all, is a screamer -- a Heisman Trophy candidate, and maybe the Heisman candidate, suspended indefinitely for violating NCAA rules -- but then I see what it is he's being suspended for, and it's not exactly armed robbery. Unless, that is, you're the NCAA, where the mindset is that marketing its student-athletes is solely the right of the NCAA.

Going into business for yourself is Not Allowed. And so Georgia suspends Gurley because he allegedly autographed, for money, more than 400 items, including jerseys, mini-helmets and photos.

I wish I could say this changed my opinion of Gurley for the worse. Alas, it does not.

It does not, because in the world outside the NCAA's increasingly alien bubble, what Gurley did  simply makes him an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs have long held a hallowed place in American society. Hell, there's nothing more American, if you think about it; a good many of our national icons, after all, did exactly what Gurley did: Recognize a market for something and satisfy it.

Sure, inside the NCAA bubble, that's a no-no unless the NCAA gets a cut (or, actually, the entire loaf). And, sure, Gurley undoubtedly knew that. So if the autographs are genuine, he knowingly violated the rules, and therefore bought himself this suspension.

No one's going to argue that. No one, at least here on the Blob, is going to say Georgia (and the  NCAA) wasn't within the rights it's accorded itself to punish the kid for making money off his image, because only Georgia and the NCAA are allowed to do that.

But don't expect me to think badly of the kid because of it.

You get down to the bare wood of it, all he did was cash in on his fame, which in football can be exceedingly fleeting. That doesn't exactly make my blood run cold. All it tells me is Todd Gurley has a pretty good head for business.

And so ... go with God, young man. No matter what your school and the NCAA thinks of you, you're gonna go far.

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