(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Friday, January 05, 2007

Cultural Relativism

I blogged just a few days ago that I couldn't see the wisdom of Alabama's hiring of Nick Saban. Yes, I'm a northeasterner who went to a college where the Texans quit the football team because the version of football played in the northeast at what's now the D-IAA level paled in comparison to the "Friday Night Lights" experience these boys had in Texas. So, it is hard for me to understand all of the intensity surrounding major college football, even if there are Penn State alums in my midst and even if nearby Rutgers alums are no longer avoiding eye contact at the mention of their school's football program. After all, I come from a town that is a pro football town; there just isn't any room for any other football.

I talked today with an acquaintance who is a Crimson Tide alum, and he's just thrilled that Alabama hired Nick Saban. "We needed to do this," he explained. And when I questioned him about the wisdom of spending all that money ($32 million over 8 years), he had the following to say: "Well, it's not that much money. Bob Stoops gets $3 million a year at Oklahoma, and the football program's revenues pay for a lot of other things at the university." He then offered that his friends, also fellow alums, were stoked about the hiring. Clearly, visions of national championships are dancing in the minds of the Alabama faithful. "Besides," this man offered, "the money that's paying for this contract is private money. Wealthy alums."

Put simply, the Alabama Crimson Tide fans are very excited about this hiring.

I still would use this money to enhance the computer science department, fund some good basic scientific research projects, alternative fuel technologies or whatever, but the faithful in Tuscaloosa apparently wanted this -- the arrival of Nick Saban -- more than anything else. Sure, it's easy for me, a centrist in a blue state, to question the whole system that exists in the SEC and whether it's wise (and I will argue, again, that it isn't), but down there apparently arguments like mine are attributed to the un-American element in society (it's just un-American to question the wisdom of college football in places like Tuscaloosa). That said, if everyone did what I said, there wouldn't be much to talk, write or argue about.

So, good luck Bama fans -- may you both find happiness in the new arrangement.

I hope you get your money's worth.


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