For years in the upper echelon of college football and basketball, the notion of the players as “student-athletes” has been stretched to the limit. Now, along comes John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats to end the charade once and for all.
In the past, we could always count on a team assembled of “one-and-done” players to self-destruct in some way. The players would be selfish, or wouldn’t gel together when it really mattered. But not this Kentucky team. Even curmudgeonly commentators noted how unselfish the players were on offense, and how well they played team defense.
But never fear, the NCAA rode into the Final Fourt to fix the situation, in the best way they know how: a silly, ridiculous rule. As Pierce notes in aforementioned article, reporters had instructions at press conferences not to call Kentucky’s players “players,” but “student-athletes.” So, for example, a reporter would have to phrase the question along the lines of, “Coach, how do you expect your, ah. . . student-athletes to handle the Louisville defense?” The press conferences came with NCAA bureaucrat attached, ready to enforce the rule.
“There’s nothing to see here!”
The NCAA has long had the problem of inherent contradictions embedded within, and has long sought to fix it in the worst way possible, through rules. As Tocqueville commented,
The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can turn the worst laws to advantage. That is a commonplace truth, but one to which my studies are always bringing me back. It is the central point in my conception. I see it at the end of all my reflections.
When you resort to law to fix culture, you reveal a weakness that predators can smell a mile away. Law cannot fix culture by itself.
But an attorney friend of mine challenged that assumption in regard to the Civil Rights movement. Surely, he argued, the Civil Rights Acts of 1965 and 1968 accomplished more change than some amorphous “culture” did . I countered with the claim that civil rights efforts from Brown v. BOE to the March on Washington laid the foundation upon which law could build, but unfortunately my knowledge of that period lacks the necessary depth for me to be sure.
Or what about the whole question of gay marriage? Some argue that law has led the fight in this issue, against the general culture, with stunning success. But again, I’m not so sure. Maybe the movies, tv shows, and such laid the groundwork for the charge? The broader question is, if the movement relies on law/judges to lead the way, will they have ultimate success? As always, I would be curious for anyone’s thoughts on the question, and here is one opinion from the UK.