The NCAA is the new moral authority in the collegiate-athletics arena, and recently they took a tremendous step to remind us just how great they truly are. In an article published on their very own website, the NCAA took great steps to tell us that the "Numbers Don't Lie" as they are truly advocates for the student-athletes that they lord over.
In a piece that ultimately is soaked in "look at the good stuff we did," the NCAA uses humane response to tragedy and horrific occurrences to pat themselves on the back. The article sets its own stage:
A shooting in Norway. Seventy-seven people die. A country reels. Boston College pays $2,300 to send its Norwegian-born soccer player home to grieve, to weep, to embrace his family.
A tornado in Alabama. Hundreds, including many student-athletes, lose homes, lose all that they own. The University of Alabama spends thousands of dollars to replace the lost wardrobes of its student-athletes, helping repair lives swept away in the wind.
A parent dies. Many miles away, a child mourns in solitude. Mississippi State pays $1,200 to send its football player home to say goodbye.
The urban myth, fueled by some in the media, perpetuate stories about athletes who have scholarships but can't afford things like a winter coat or a plane ride home.
Yes, because a massacre in Norway, a horrific tornado in Tuscaloosa and a player's parent passing away are the times to say "look at how good we are." This idea, that the NCAA is the generous governing body doling out this money to help those in need, is a joke. Not because the players getting relief don't need it; rather, because the NCAA is the reason that the NCAA gets to pat its own back in this situation.
To explain, these schools would send these kids home in a heartbeat. Alabama would offer as much support possible to its players in an effort to get their lives back on track. Boosters, local businesses and the like would gladly pony up the money to pay for coats or shoes or travel home. Yet, instead of having their needs met rapidly by those who actually care, they are forced to apply for the funding and hope they are one of the applicants that gets accepted.
The organization is essentially patting itself on the back for helping people in a system it set up in which it is the only one who is "allowed" to help out. If a school steps up to the plate? Extra benefit, vacate games and enjoy this probation. If a coach does it? Extra benefit, suspend the player and get slapped with a show-cause. If a booster does it? Extra benefit, strip player of eligibility and force booster's disassociation. Hell, if a close family friend gives the money? Extra benefit, suspension and all that jazz too.
You don't get to pat yourself on the back for doing your job, in a system which you set up in which no one else can help get the kids relief. Especially not when, in the grand scheme of things, you're not actually doing that good of a job. From Matt Hinton over at CBS Sports:
The Media doesn't want you to know this, but the NCAA gives back .07% of its annual share of March Madness to athletes. ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connec…
— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) August 21, 2012
The same organization that suspended a kid for getting help to fly home from his high-school host family is pushing to frame itself as the master of benevolence. But, then again, it's easy to paint that picture when you've constructed a system in which you are the only group allowed to come to the aid of students.