Tuesday, August 24, 2010

College athletics are business enterprises

As much as we may not like it or admit it, college football and basketball are now business enterprises/corporations. As fans and in the throes of fan-dom, we don't want to acknowledge such but the truth, as someone said speaking on another subject, is self-evident.

Yes, even though they are affiliated with an entity of higher learning, the heads of collegiate teams keep their jobs by winning, usually many more games than they lose. Doing so brings in television appearances and bowl game invites/Big Dance appearances and positive overall publicity, the trifecta that keeps the financial coffers full.

Achieve this troika and most personal peccadilloes or worse and/or those of the student-athletes are tsked at but generally overlooked. It's basic: win and you are a success in the world regardless of anything else.

The athletic directors -- call them the CEOs -- of these coaches keep their positions by maintaining and/or lengthening the plus side of the balance sheet.

The bigtime boosters (measured in financial contributions, not by mere loyalty) are the shareholders.

We're in the peanut gallery, offering opinions on this or that but having no real influence on personnel policy.

With that hopefully clarified, maybe such will help explain the past/present/future conduct of the various WAC members.

The WAC (nor do other leagues) doesn't function based upon any sort of sacred vows. The 'until death do you part' of certain marriage ceremonies has never and will never seep into any sort of conference bonds.

All is a business operation.

Similarly, corporations have agreements with others until such no longer provide the benefit wanted or desired. If a better (more profitable or beneficial) deal can be made elsewhere, it's value will be measured and an agreement possibly pursued.

That's the nature of the business beast and the very same financial model on which college athletics (football and basketball) function.

Human-like feelings -- empathy, family, loyalty and the sort -- do not apply. All is profit/success driven. The shareholders must be kept happy and satisfied. The product must be sale-able to enough of the masses.

Or heads roll.

Any CEO is 'required' to look further into such if a new proposal/deal provides greater visibility and the possibility of larger income generation. This allows for the possibility of strengthening his or her products.

The same is also true for any athletics director.

In this atmosphere, any given word on any matter is truly only good for the very moment it is issued.

Constant re-evaluation carries the day.

It's hard (and probably unfair) to label any of the individual actors in the current WAC situation as good or bad, heroes or villains. They are simply doing what they are designated and situated to do.

We may want matters to be different, desiring collegiate athletics to be something with a positive purity quotient but that train has left the station -- if it ever was a reality to begin with.

Decision making based upon any sort of common good is incongruent thinking in the corporate world mindset as well as college athletics because neither apparatus is currently designed for such.

He who has the gold, rules and the maximization of profit carries the day.

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