The Twilight Of The Mind

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:03 pm

….is a rewording of a quote from Sci Fi writer Harlan Ellison, “The Twilight of the Word“, describing his take on the advent of the Internet and Net culture, but I think it’s appropriate in this scenario as well.

I was listening to NPR this morning when I happened to overhear a story on the results of the past Saturday’s NCAA semifinals. Normally any story centering on sports fails to register on my sensorium at all, unless it happens to include certain key phrases, such as “raise public funds to tear down a still-unpaid-for sports stadium in order to build a new sports stadium“. Much like the eye of the frog in the famous McCulloch-Lettvin study, I do not merely ignore the majority of sports-related input; my sensory apparatus actually filters the telemetry so that my brain never receives the signal at all. So it was pure chance that this sports-related story triggered enough of a stimulus-response to garner my attention. Lucky me.

Apparently, the much-ballyhooed University of Memphis Tigers managed to trounce their rival, the UCLA Bruins. In a story in the New York Times, freshman point guard Derrick Rose was quoted as saying of their victory, “We knew that we was going to win, so, ain’t too much to say.”

Wait, what? Did he really just say that?

I had to go online and find the article in question so I could make absolutely sure that this was, indeed a player from a team in the NCAA, the National COLLEGIATE Athletic Association. Upon the release of this story and its attendant notable quotable, I can only assume that Tigers coach John Calipari promptly resigned his position in shame, perhaps even going so far as to commit seppuku in the center of Dunavant Plaza. Nothing on the news feeds so far, but I remain hopeful.

I’ve been saying this for years, but the time is finally, irrefutably at hand to dissolve the bonds between professional athletics and academics. The two are completely and irreparably antagonistic to one another. If young people with ability and promise want to hone their skills in the hopes of wringing a career out of their efforts, I have absolutely no problem with that. How fortunate, then, that there exists a ready-made avenue for this sort of endeavor; it’s called professional sports, and it’s an umpty grillion dollar per year industry. Plenty to go around.

How this pursuit might complete or complement the honing of one’s intellect in the hopes of finding personal and financial fulfillment through that, I haven’t the faintest fucking idea.

And since the cultivation and promulgation of the life of the mind was there first, I think it is the responsibility of collegiate athletics to graciously leave the academic sphere and strike out on its own. I’m sure it will have no problem making a name for itself out there beyond the protective walls of the ivy citadel.

2 Responses to “The Twilight Of The Mind”

  1. joe Says:

    You make an excellent point.

    I do have one quibble. I also do not think it unreasonable for people of athletic ability to seek careers in professional sports. I believe, however, that post secondary training can improve the skills of even the most natural of talents.

    To this end, I think that there should be unabashed technical schools for athletes. Sort of like an ITT Technical Schools for Athletics. I think these institutions should be allowed to play in the NCAA against actual academic institutions without many of the limitations on student income that the NCAA currently applies.

    Ultimately, I would like to see these institutions drain so much top talent from the post high school ranks that academic institutions find themselves unable to compete, not only for rankings but for the interest of athletic fans. At that point, maybe, collegiate athletics could go back to what it was meant to do. Provide an avenue by which athletic talents interested in a career beyond athletics can seek a broader post secondary education.


  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Oh, I do love that idea, Joe. Subtle, yet nasty. 🙂

    Don’t they already have trade schools for pre-pro athletes? They’re called “camps”, I think. Y’know; Football Camp, Soccer Camp, Hockey Camp. They’re sponsored by the major tram franchises and the sports equipment/paraphernalia manufacturers and are crawling with scouts like ticks on a fawn.

    My idea long ago was a sort of “Army College Fund” for sports, where aspiring students play pro or semi-pro sports for 4 years and in turn receive guaranteed tuition and stipend for the school of their choice. Plus all the side endorsement deals they can manage to squeeze out of their time in “the service”.

    I, too, am not against the concept of athletics in school, but just feel that it should complement, rather than compete with, academics.

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