Originally Posted by Hoosier Red
I agree with the eleven warriors to a point. Though I chuckle at their reference to "noted Calipari hater" when it was noted by a UK blog.
I think the holier than thou critics are overly sanctimonious. But I also believe that college basketball would be a lesser product if every team was built on 1 and 2 year players. There are many fans(myself included) who love college basketball but are indifferent at best to the NBA. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of them is no doubt the connection people feel to their university,(even if they didn't specifically attend), and when a player basically does a free agent one year contract, the connection is lessened.
It's not a big deal to the overall structure if you're talking about maybe one player per year. But if every team had even one player every year who was a one and done, it would not only drop the quality of play, but it would lower the connection.
Fortunately, there isn't that large of a supply of players both willing and able to go from high school to the NBA in one short year. Kentucky happened to have 3 of those along with at least one other player who was able but decided to come back for his sophomore year. Which gets to why everyone bemoans the supposed "lack of integrity." Everyone who's not Kentucky is jealous that Kentucky is getting a lion's share of these very talented players.
To take the ridiculous moralizing out of the argument; think of it this way. If the Reds decided to basically sign the top free agent players every year but the roster turned over 75% every year, the Reds might be a good team, but really the fans would lose some connection to the team. Part of the joy of being a sports fan is seeing a player grow and succeed. Part of the joy is being there through the down times and appreciating the successes that much more. If you bring in great players but they stay for only one year, you don't really get that.
So if you do that, the only solution is that you must win. And win big.
Every time I hear an argument like this, I can't help but think of the selfishness of college sports fans (which I exhibit too every time I talk about UK, OU or my other affiliated institutions).
We have an undying loyalty to our school where we crafted four (or more) years of amazing (and sometimes hazy) memories. Our love and loyalty to the institution is almost always deep and our need for the institution as a gateway to the professional world is great. The students equation is very logical and makes sense. We provide the school with money and they provide us the the skills, maturity, and diploma needed to make make our way in the professional world.
But, the equation for a high profile football or basketball player is very different and much more lopsided (in favor of the school and fans). We fans get glory and hundreds of hours of entertainment out of the equation in return for our money. The coach can make millions of dollars a year. The school gets money and a much higher Q score.
What does the elite athlete get? What does Kentucky provide Michael Kidd Gilchrist? Fame? An education? The opportunity to make millions? Who got more out of his experience at UK, Gilchrist or the fans? He would make it into the NBA whether he went to college, played in Europe, went to the D League, or played for a year at a New Jersey YMCA (LeBron and Kobe did just fine without going to college.) So, how is that equation going to get better for Kidd Gilchrist if he has to stay two or three years? Would he improve more by staying at UK and playing inferior competition in college? Is Anthony Davis going to learn to score in the post by playing 6'8 centers? We complain that players should stay in college to improve their game. That seems like a highly flawed and selfish argument. Shouldn't we have sports academies instead? Shouldn't Anthony Davis be going to post player school instead of UK? What would happen if we had changed the basketball upbringing of Ricky Rubio and John Wall. Put John Wall on a team with J.C. Navarro, Jose Calderon, and the Gasol brothers at 16 instead of playing AAU. Put him on Barcelona with seasoned pros instead of DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Liggins and doesn't he have to become a different player? How is college benefitting these guys (even if it is 2 or 3 or even 4 years).
The final part of the equation is this. College sports are the gateway to the professional ranks (especially in basketball and football). Why? Is there any logical reason to connect higher education with a path to the pros? What do the two have to do with one another? Doesn't the connection lessen the both of them? Do we really believe that college sports are the best way to train athletes for the professional ranks? College sports are the means to get to the pros for two reasons.
1) They always have been
2) We (the fans) want it that way
What if our college sports looked like what they are purported to be? Actual Amatuer sports? What if we took all the pro prospects out of college hoops and college football and truly made it amateur instead of a means to an end? Would we watch? Would the product be so poor that we would lose interest?
Now, here is the dilemma. I love college sports. My arms still hurt from the amount of fist pumps I did during UK and OU's runs during the tournament. I am still furious with DJ Cooper for going 3 for 20. But here's the problem I run into: I'm not particularly sure why. It is an inferior product to the pros. I (and everyone else) knows that it is corrupt and flawed. But I still follow. Why? Is it loyalty to my schools? If so, then why am I drawn to games that have nothing to do with them? Is it the love of competition? Maybe... I don't know. All I know is that I'm basking in UK's title and I'm going to collect some money from my NCAA pool... I hate myself.