Conference realignment is a moral hole
And it's not just bad — it's counterproductive
One of the perils of being a writer and having friends who are writers is that sometimes your friends write stuff you wish you had written. It is a core occupational hazard. You can be as zen as you want about the process of putting words down on a page — and, generally speaking, I’m pretty zen about it — but, eventually, the envy strikes.
Pat Forde’s column this week is one such instance. In it, Pat tied the post-Bismarck Great Powers’ slow, helpless, brain-fryingly stupid slide into World War I with what is happening in college athletics right now. Small moves beget larger shifts; dumb causes have unforeseen effects; a butterfly flaps its wings and a few weeks later the whole world has gone insane. As a certified History Dad who has spent large chunks of his adult life reading obsessively about European history (and playing way too much EUIV and Victoria II), this column was written entirely for me.
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But the best bit about it is the moral clarity at its center.
Where and when it all ends, nobody knows. But eventually, if the Washington Huskies are making their fifth trip east of the fall, on their way to end the regular season in College Park, Md., instead of playing their natural rival in Pullman, there will be a reckoning. The existential questions: “How did we get here? What are we doing? Why did we let this escalate beyond all reason?” […]
The school presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners all should be ashamed of their role in tearing asunder the fabric of college sports. But they’re too busy taking orders from TV partners and counting the resulting revenue. Yet and still, there is nobody looking out for the greater good of the entire enterprise—nobody willing to throw on the brakes and slow the gravy train.
Conference realignment, in its current form, with its current likely outcomes, is bad. But there’s more: It’s also probably counterproductive — actually bad for the future of college sports, too. Everyone should stop. The problem is that no one in a position of actual power seems willing to say it, or able to do it.