With John Wall Recruitment, Is Kentucky's Win At-All-Costs Mentality Worth It?

Cookie GarrisContributor IMay 6, 2009

(Please refer to Nathan B's article, "John Wall Charged with Breaking and Entering: John Calipari, You Can Have Him" for more information on John Wall.)

This is not just about Kentucky basketball, but all of college sports, and for all college sports fans and even pro sports fans.

When does it stop? When does winning at any cost become too much?

Yes, I live in Kentucky, and Kentucky is my favorite college sports team (even in football). But I, unlike many Kentucky fans, have a sinking feeling in my stomach that we are heading down a dark path.

Anyone who follows sports has already read or viewed on TV that the No. 1 college basketball recruit, John Wall, has been arrested on a misdemeanor breaking and entering charge.

Wall is probably John Calipari's most sought after recruit. Kentucky is only one in a handful of colleges who want him—and he's not the only recruit out there with a spotty history.

I am not, and will not, bad mouth this teenager, because we were all teenagers once, and I am sure we all made our fair share of mistakes. The only difference is we didn't get caught!

Articles on every sports Web site, newspaper, and TV have already touched upon his attitude and possible character flaws, so that's old news. I say possible character flaws because, again, I do not know him personally, and I don't wish to be a hypocrite.

This article is meant to ask fans: Just how much does winning mean?

I just read a very nice article by Nathan B. on this site titled "John Wall Charged With Breaking and Entering: John Calipari, You Can Have Him.”

A poll in his article gives us our answer.

At the time I am writing this article, 48.9 percent of people would want him on their team, while 44 percent say he would be a disruptive force. I guess we have our answer.

Yes, I do believe in giving second and sometimes even third chances to teenagers. But many of these college recruits will go on to be multi-millionaires, and when colleges give them a free pass on actions like this, there are no consequences for what you do. We let pro athletes get away with anything and make millions doing it.

And it's not just Kentucky.

Name any top-level college program, and in most cases they will recruit a kid whatever the cost and whatever his character, just to win and satisfy the fans and boosters.

The pursuit of winning and the millions of dollars pro teams throw at top players has tainted college sports. (You college football fans should be rioting in the streets because there is no playoff system. You can blame greed for that.) And it starts at a child’s home.

Don't misunderstand me—parenting starts at home. But kids watch TV and use the Internet daily, so of course athletes, movie stars, and so on will influence them. They see Terrell Owens' antics on the sideline. Fans of Memphis have seen when John Calipari allowed Sean Banks to play after the police charged him twice—twice!—one a police chase and another endangering a child.

Some things are inexcusable.

In the end, it's the fans that buy tickets, buy merchandise, and most often pay the way for our kids to go to their favorite schools. But ask yourself this: Are we selling ourselves out for just a three-letter word—WIN?