Monday’s NCAA basketball championship game marks the end of the annual charade that infects American sports — the claim that big-time college athletics is about “student-athletes” who play for the love of the game and, on occasion, a free education.
Please. There are so many hypocrisies embedded in Division 1 basketball and football that pointing them out is too easy.
Wichita cheered last week when basketball coach Gregg Marshall agreed to stay at Wichita State for a mere $3 million per year. His players can earn revocable scholarships worth maybe $20,000 annually.
Yet, like you, I’m glued to the TV during the tournament. I’m not sure why. Clearly, the involvement of unpaid college students is a key part of it. Imagine a basketball tournament involving the same players and coaches but for minor-league clubs in Wisconsin and North Carolina.
Never miss a local story.
Would we watch? No.
Enjoying the tournament requires a willing suspension of belief: Your head knows what you’re seeing is wrong, but your heart isn’t listening.
Politics can be like that.
Missouri and Kansas are nearing final decisions on their budgets. When the votes come, you’ll hear lots of claims that, unlike the federal government, states must balance their spending and revenue.
Yet Kansas plans to borrow $1 billion this year for its public pension plan. Is a budget really balanced when money is borrowed to fund current obligations?
Missouri is thinking about “extending” bonds to build yet another football stadium in St. Louis. That’s debt, guaranteed by future taxpayers.
To accept that a new stadium would be cost-free, you must willingly suspend belief. You have to believe your mortgage payment is somehow different from your spending on food and gas. Which, of course, it isn’t.
Republicans in Congress claim they’re closing in on a federal budget proposal that would balance in 10 years without raising taxes. It’s a stretch — the plan kills Obamacare but keeps its taxes, slashes planned spending for Medicare, and still doesn’t balance without “growth” magically pouring $83 billion into the treasury in 2025.
Maybe Congress should ask Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback how growth predictions work out.
On the other hand, there is evidence the Kansas tax cuts are finally trickling down to someone: Wichita State’s basketball coach.
He’ll get $3 million next year. That should mean a little extra for the state treasury.