Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Johnny Manziel Brings Subjective Reality To The Masses

Sullied By Dirty, Dirty Money
Going to get a little deep here, folks. It's past 2AM, I've just finished a double shift at the day job with the promise of another one tomorrow, and the respite that sports is supposed to provide is getting compromised by people puling about the NCAA, Johnny Manziel, or both.

Now, faithful readers (and bots) of the blog will know that I don't follow the college professional game; I only follow the professional professional game. Even if it wasn't morally compromised on levels that even the meat grinder that is the NFL considers rapacious, there's just too much of it, and the ugliest truth of sports is that you generally care about what you cared about as a child, just in a different way.

I grew up in suburban Philadelphia, where college football consisted of Penn State twerps from 200 miles away, or Temple getting its head handed to it by, well, Penn State et al. College football was easily ignored, especially once I got to teenager years and discovered that my state tax dollars were paying a public employee, eventually disgraced PSU head coach Joe Paterno, to go to the GOP convention and endorse Bush The Elder. PSU as a rooting interest went full-blown away at that point, and my single moment of really caring very hard about college football came when my college of choice and eventual alma mater, Syracuse, absolutely wiped the Carrier Dome floor with the plodding Lions. Soon after, they scuttled off to the Midwest (coincidence? I don't think so), and that was CFB for me.

So, I don't care about it, other than as something I have to pay attention to for the NFL D-League aspects of it, and I'm able to look at this Johnny Manziel autograph kerfluffle without caring, one way or the other, about Texas A&M's chances with or without him.

(Sidebar: Can we all agree that paying for autographs is a tremendously stupid waste of time and money, and needs to be regarded with the same general disdain that, say, you'd get from owning a Humvee in Manhattan? And that the Magic of Cursive Writing to verify your existence and intent is one of modern life's odder small traditions? Yes? Good, thanks, glad we got that cleared up.)

But that's the entirety of the issue here, isn't it?

No one is arguing about whether Manziel did damage to the sport by *allegedly* selling his signature, because everyone knows that there is no such thing as damage to the sport, at least not in the off-season. They might be saying that Manziel is stupid, or reckless, or out of control, or foolish... but corrupt? Hell and no, because when you find yourself in a whorehouse, one does not start judging by the propriety of the costuming, or the daintiness of the manners, of the staff. We're all bozos on this bus, and every CFB fan cares about the education of their laundry's players only to the extent that it doesn't take away eligibility. 

Now, the 10,000-foot view. In my two hours of non-work tonight, I went to the gym and slogged through the usual workout. One of the monitors had on Faux News with their tired Colbert parody on, and the point was made that if you hated military invention in Iraq, you better hate it in Syria, because it's the exact same thing, and pretending anything else just shows you're rooting for your party laundry, not your country laundry. And on some trivial extent, this has some basis in reality. Military intervention is far too frequently the item of first resort, it's staggeringly expensive, and had we spent the R&D and focus on alternative energy tech in the past 30+ years, rather than, say, cell phones, porn and reality television, you'd have to think we'd all have $5K Ferrari-esque Teslas that run on biowaste and sunshine in our driveways by now. But that's not a tact that the Paint 'Em In A Corner types want to hit, since our guys bombing their guys is usually good TV. Also, that we do not care about the well-being of our country's laundry players only to the extent that they don't show up limbless and homeless to badger us for change. Anyway, not quite the point I'm trying to make here, other than to note that the average "news" network wants to cover news like sports. Much to the detriment of the country.

The fact is that no one views L'Affaire Manziel with clean eyes, because no one cares about the NCAA"s rules; just their punishments. And no one cares (relatively; there are, of course soldier families who will have loved ones in harm's way) about the relative merits of continuing to be involved militarily in an eternal quagmire region just because we can't wean ourselves from the fossil fuels... other than as part of the unbalanced breakfast that is what we laughingly refer to as our political process.

So long as you only see in black and white, winners and losers, etc... well, everything gets pretty dumb, pretty unpleasant, and it happens with a quickness. And a game with an unstable moral center, which is what's going to occur if/when Manziel is exonerated or disgraced, that the public does not respect, has no reason to continue to exist.

Cue the howls of Tradition.

To wit: if the members of the SEC decided, screw it, we're not part of the NCAA any more, and we're only going to play each other, and we're going to pay our players and have our own television deal...

Well... would it impact the size of their ratings at all? Hurt their recruiting? Diminish their take from professional college football? Make for any worse of a game?

No, no, no, and no.

One of the first rules of economics: things that can't continue, won't. CFB as it currently exists, and the way that the NCAA regulates the money, can't continue.

And what you think about it will be entirely dependent on what laundry you root for...

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