I wanted – desperately – to have this be a normal college basketball diary. Sadly, it won’t be. In fact, it can’t be. The reason? Right now in college basketball, we are seeing that the system is so hell-bent on making the sport work for money that it has lost sight of what really matters – the students.
The Dim Reality
This week, Florida forward Keyontae Johnson collapsed on the court, and the event brought me back to reality. It was heartwrenching and devastating.
No family should have to see their son or daughter collapse in the middle of a nationally televised game, but it happened. And those events were real – it’s something you can’t take back.
It also made me stop and think for a second about what we are really doing when pushing young adults to play for schools, amidst a pandemic, to earn money for everyone else but themselves.
Johnson is now stable and recovering, according to the latest report. But what happened in this relatively meaningless basketball game showcased all that’s wrong with this season. Frankly, it showed the disaster that is college basketball in 2020.
We have young adults whose lives have barely gotten started risking it all to play a game that makes the rich richer. How is that remotely ethical? Or does it just become ethical under the guides of returning to “normalcy?”
— Florida Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) December 15, 2020
Does Coach K Get It?
The past few diaries celebrated the efforts of college basketball in returning to a state of normalcy. But what is going on is so far from normal. I feel like the rest of the world needs to have the same epiphany I did and ask themselves, what are we really doing here?
Coach Mike Krzyzewski figured it out when he pulled the rest of Duke’s non-conference games. He saw that there was no point risking everything to gain nothing.
Since the pandemic started, society has been itching to return to normal life. There was no patience in the process. We didn’t want anything disrupting the dystopia we built for ourselves. What would we ever do without the distraction of sports, right? What will we do if we have to wear masks and social distance?
So, much like the latter, people ignored any feasible recommendations and powered on with sports. College football fell flat on its face. The MLB had Justin Turner. The NFL had numerous schedule changes and games moved. Oh, and a team took the field with no quarterback, due to COVID. But we must have our sports, right?
It’s now college basketball’s turn to look foolish, and it has taken center stage.
The 2020 Season Is a Mess
They are talking on ESPN about how many college basketball games have been cancelled and whether the season should be suspended.
I. Just. Can’t. 😢
— Dana, Waiting for Basketball (@dana4bama) December 9, 2020
Here is college basketball’s reality: games being canceled. It’s not pretty, and it’s not worth it.
Am I a curse or what? Yet another pick is cancelled after publication and less than 24 hrs before tip. A shame too, because UVA was my top play.
2-1 yesterday. 14-3-1 on the year
Top College Basketball Picks Wednesday, December 9th (2020) | BettingPros https://t.co/047K1Wh1Bb
— Mike Spector (@MikeSpector01) December 9, 2020
We have teams playing against teams that haven’t played a single opponent this year due to cancelations. We have teams playing in games that were scheduled at midnight the day before. Furthermore, we have teams playing with seven guys because the bench has COVID. What are we doing?
How does college basketball crown a champion in a season like this? I ask because I truly don’t know.
There Is No Point to the 2020 Season
It doesn’t even count towards a player’s eligibility, so why play? Who is the master college basketball attempts to serve? Money, TV contracts, athletics boosters, school donors – none of it matters when human life is at stake. More so, none of that matters when what’s at stake is a young adult’s future.
It’s a shame that to society, returning to normal means putting people at risk in the name of money. Yes, money makes the world go around, but college basketball prides itself on being “more” than just a sport for money. But, here it is, making decisions that jeopardize the integrity of the game, and the safety of its constitution, for the lucrative green dollar. That’s always the bottom line.
All I can ask is, what are we doing? And who does college basketball really serve?
I am a college basketball writer primarily based in Nashville, covering all mid-major activity along with Big Ten hoops.