Friday, July 25, 2014

Thoughts On Another Summer Friday

Well, it's the next Friday in the summer. Another blink of an eye come and gone, another week closer to the start of the 2014-15 athletic year.

Those numbers now read six weeks from today until the first games of the new year and eight weeks from tomorrow until opening day of the football season.

The lead story on as TigerBlog writes this is the announcement of the 2014-15 men's hockey schedule. Opening day for that sport will be Oct. 31, Halloween. That is a little more than three months away. That's about the same amount of time between opening day for hockey and opening day for lacrosse.

On and on it will go.

Speaking of hockey, Princeton will be playing the Russian Red Stars (TB has no idea who they are, but they have "Russian" in their name so they must be good at hockey) in an exhibition game on Jan. 3, followed by a game six days later against the defending NCAA champ. Off the top of your head, can you name the defending NCAA hockey champ?

TigerBlog will give you a few paragraphs to mull that over. In the meantime, the big story in college sports this week was the comment by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby that essentially said "cheating pays" in college sports.

Again, TigerBlog has the same reaction. There are two separate and completely unequal worlds of college sports: World 1 is big-time football and men's basketball; World 2 and everything else. The everything else comprises 95% of the athletes and loses a ton of money; the first two are a small piece of athletes and billions of dollars.

There will always be coaches and programs in World 2 that skirt the rules. The majority of the rule-breaking is going to come from World 1.

And why? That's the easiest question ever. It's the money. When coaches are being paid that much and there is so much at stake financially for these institutions, what do you think is going to happen, especially when you factor in how competitive your average big-time coach is.

TB always laughs when people say the NCAA should make tougher rules or simplify its rule book, as if the governing body of college sports can unilaterally make up regulations. It can't. They come from the member schools.

Have you ever read the rulebook? It's long, bulky and in many ways weird. Read it for five minutes, and you won't be able to prevent yourself from wondering who in the world came up with some of this stuff.

The answer is that these rules came about because there were simple rules that someone figured out a way around. So they had to be tightened up here and there, except then someone else figured another loophole. And so on and so on.

The NCAA enforcement office shot back that it was in fact on top of the cheating in college sports and that most cheaters are eventually caught. Maybe that's true. Maybe that's not.

The problem is that college athletics has all kinds of issues these days, and those issues are calling into question the very future of what college athletics will be and what they will look like. And it's World 1 that is causing 99% of the problems.

TB isn't as bleak on the future of college athletics as some are. Maybe that's because he spends his time in World 2, where the coaches are just as competitive but the money isn't as prevalent, which makes it all somewhat purer.

Plus, TB figures that it'll all work itself out in some way, and that 100 years from now, the Alabama-Auburn football game will still be huge and Princeton will still be playing Harvard, Penn and the rest in a bunch of sports.

Maybe he's wrong about that. He has a hunch he isn't.

Meanwhile, back at the trivia question, the defending NCAA men's hockey champ is Union.

And it's still a Friday in the summer. The last Friday in July, for that matter.

What do you have this weekend? Hopefully it's something good.

Two weeks ago, TigerBlog suggested it was too nice out for people to be at work, so they should all tell their bosses that TB said it would be okay to take the afternoon off. The weather is actually nicer around here today than it was then, if that's possible.

The summer is made for days like this, weekends like this one coming up. Make sure you're spending it outside. Go the beach. Or at least the pool. Have a BBQ. Get up early and go out to breakfast and then take a long walk. Go to an outdoor concert.

Six months from now will be the last Friday in January, which means Jan. 30 (even though it's only the 25th of July). On that night, Princeton will be at Yale in men's hockey. Yale won the NCAA title the year before Union.

TB's sense is it'll be much colder that weekend than it will be this one. Cold. Maybe snowy. Windy for sure. It'll be a weekend to bundle up and all that, and to think about how summer is out there somewhere in the distance, somewhere far off at that point.

So enjoy it while it's here.

Have a great weekend.

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