Monday, March 28, 2016

Billboard Madness

I knew I should have gone corporate on this deal.

I knew I shouldn't have said it would Kansas, Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon in the Final Four, because, well, none of them are there. Syracuse -- Syracuse! -- is there instead. No, I don't know how. But the Orange are my new fave now, and more about that on the Blob later.

In any case, I'm a big fat zero on my Final Four picks. But if I'd gone corporate, I wouldn't be.

I should have picked Always Reppin' to be in my Final Four.

Always Reppin' (among other sayings) is the new March Madness meme, and surely you've noticed it. Every other team in Da Tournament seems to be wearing Nike Always Reppin' T-shirts over their unis, cloaking the logo of the universities for whom they're allegedly playing with the logo of whom their really playing for, Nike. Or, you know, Under Armour. Or PowerAde.

In other words, it's not just shoes anymore, or a discreet little Nike swoosh on one shoulder. Corporate advertising has gone full-on NASCAR now, with the hired help serving as human billboards in fact instead of just subliminal ones.

It's so in-your-face, and so pervasive, you wouldn't notice it unless your antennae conditioned you to notice it. Which mine do, for better or worse. And following quickly on the heels of noticing is the question of how much the human billboards are getting compensated for pimping their schools' respective apparel suppliers in such a blatant fashion.

The answer, of course, is zilch. Nada. You'll get nothing and like it, mister.

And you wonder why one-and-done kids like Ben Simmons couldn't care less about the schools for whom they play?

Why should they, when the whole rotten thing is all about commerce anyway?

And so the one-and-dones stop going to class as soon as they decently can, because they recognize what the game is here. They were hired to make money for their schools, and, if their talents get their schools to Da Tournament, they've done their job. So how can the schools complain if they don't go along with the rest of the charade?

It's a warped system that bears no relation to the student-athlete model the NCAA so zealously pushes, and with such increasing desperation. If this weren't simply about sucking every dollar from the sweat of free labor, the NCAA would decree that the apparel companies could no longer use its "student-athletes" as billboards.  It would decree that coaches could no longer wantonly break contracts to flit from one school to another, then deny their players the right to do the same.

The common practice of coaches denying their athletes the right to transfer to any school they please gained fresh exposure when new Georgia football coach Kirby Smart forbade one of his players from following the previous head coach, Mark Richt, to Miami. If the NCAA were truly serious about the welfare of its student-athletes, it would ban this practice immediately -- or at the very least tell its member schools that any of them who persisted in it would suffer NCAA sanction.

To not do this is to essentially admit that their student-athletes are, in fact, indentured servants. Worse, actually.

Always Reppin'?

Always Gettin' Ripped Off is more like it.


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