Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Fear To Watch, Yet I Cannot Turn Away

Gregg Easterbrook, undated file photo.

God damn it. I did it again. Another Tuesday rolled around, and I just couldn't stop myself from reading Gregg Easterbrook. He's the David Brooks of ESPN--convinced that he knows everything, and that his opinions are handed down from god himself, but is in fact a blithering idiot.

This week, Easterbrook praises the shitty football programs at Nebraska and Notre Dame for their high graduation success rates. Later, in the same column, he bitches about the lack of mid-week televised college games. I just couldn't take it, so I wrote ESPN's resident Charlie Gordon an e-mail, which I now reproduce in full:
Mr. Easterbrook:

In this week's column, you praise the currently lousy Division I-A football programs at the University of Nebraska and the University of Notre Dame for their high athlete graduation success rates. Yet, later in the same column, you call for more mid-major football teams to play mid-week games so that television viewers will have more games to watch. These sentiments are glaringly inconsistent.

As an alumnus of a C-USA school (the University of Southern Mississippi), I can tell you that mid-week games are a disaster from an academic point of view. When I attended Southern Miss, C-USA started playing Thursday night games, which were broadcast on ESPN. When the Golden Eagles had a home game, the entire university would shut down in the early afternoon (libraries and all) so that alumni tailgaters could have the run of the campus. You may argue that such a decision is the fault of the university administration, and cannot be laid at the feet of the football schedule (and its attendant lucrative television contract), and you would have a case. However, the effect of mid-week games on athletes, from an academic point of view, is awful. Division I sports teams already place Herculean demands on athletes who wish to both play and further their educations, and mid-week football games turn a difficult balancing act into a near-impossible one--such
contests totally disrupt class and study schedules for the players. And, of course, attending classes and studying are rather important contributors to graduation success rates. Would you like to take a Friday morning exam after starting at tailback the night before? I'm guessing your answer would be an emphatic "no."

If you want universities to focus more on educating their athletes, great. If you simply don't care about the quality of instruction for athletes (or the rest of the student bodies), and just want more D I-A games televised, then you are welcome to that opinion, though I would disagree strongly. However, you simply cannot have both.

Thank you for your time.

I really, really hope he writes back, so I can call him a dumbass for complaining about the New Hampshire state-run liquor stores, too. I know, I know. I have no idea how he worked talking about one state's alcohol sales into a column that's supposed to be about football, but that's the magic of Easterbrook.

Oh, and did you notice the amazing lack of swearing in that e-mail? Yeah, it was tough. I had to stand up and yell "fuck fuck fuck fuck cocksucker motherfucker tax cuts for the rich shit" after I got done typing.

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