JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Am I missing something here?

john_wall

Back when I was a student at the University of Delaware in the early 1990s, making the NCAA Tournament was a huge deal. The Blue Hen players were guys you went to classes with; guys you ate with; guys you hung with. They were regular students, just like you, only with a certain level of fame that—come graduation—would almost certainly fade away. You took pride in them because, in a sense, they were … you.

Hence, I don’t really understand how a University of Kentucky student can get excited about March Madness. Your best players are simply hired help, here to win basketball games and mindlessly limp through the easiest possible classes for a year or two. They aren’t actually a part of the university; certainly never plan on graduating or—come season’s end—continuing with studies. Besides wearing jerseys that say KENTUCKY across the front, they have almost nothing to actually do with the University of Kentucky. To take pride in them is to take pride in any ol’ object that has a UK stamped atop it. (and, in many ways, college football and men’s basketball players are viewed/treated as objects. Precious objects, certainly, but objects nonetheless).

Same goes for the coach. John Calipari doesn’t love Kentucky; he doesn’t bleed Kentucky blue or live for the university. It’s a job—a nice, cushy job that, with ample success, will lead to another nice, cushy job. Nothing less, nothing more.

So win! Win big! Go get ’em!

Because, come day’s end, it says nothing about your school. And everything.

PS: Feel free to replace the word “Kentucky” with Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, etc … etc. It’s all the same.