Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Friday night rights

OK, look. I know what you're going to say. You might as well save your breath.

You might as well not remind me of all the other college conferences who are already playing football on Friday nights. You might as well not tell me that ship has sailed, and that it is, in fact, already in mid-crossing. And so the Big Ten's announcement it would begin playing select games on Friday nights next September and October is hardly newsworthy -- nor much of an occasion for outrage, either.

My response to that is something my mother used to tell me: If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

The answer, of course, is no way, which is the appropriate answer to this, too. No way should the Big Ten be dipping its toes in this foul stream, even if a whole lot of others have chosen to do so. At some point, someone in D-I college football has to demonstrate that all the platitudes officials like to trot out there are not just empty noise.

At some point, someone has to prove that D-I college football it's not just a bunch of suits with their hands out, not just apparel deals and bowl deals and corporate bean-counters droning on about profit margins and quarterly earnings in some sterile boardroom.

Respect for the game: Where does that enter the picture? Where does simple unalloyed greed give way to the notion that some things should still be sacred, and not just the Nike swoosh on the shoulders of all that unpaid help?

Those Friday nights lights, for instance.

No one ever meant them to be for Indiana versus, say, Western Kentucky, or Purdue versus Illinois. They were meant to be the province of My High School against Your High School, My Hometown against Your Hometown. They're for parents and girlfriends and high school bands a trifle light on piccolos. They're for younger siblings throwing a ball around behind the bleachers, the next generation warming up for their shot beneath the lights.

College football horning in on all that is just plain wrong, flat wrong. And it's especially wrong in this case, because Jim Delany swore the Big Ten Network was not going to go in for this sort of thing.

Apparently, though, someone threw enough money at him -- money, of course, being the prime motivation for everything these days in the corporate enterprise that is big-time college athletics. And so once again that dark prophet of cinematic Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, is proved right.

Greed really is good. Or, at the very least, no respecter of propriety.      

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