Fix NCAA tourney for society's sake!
Editor's note: Art Garfamudis originally wrote for Page 2 in 2008 before he retired to dedicate himself to preparing his safe house for any number of civilization-threatening crises. The depletion of his potable water, dried food and ammunition has lured him out of retirement to again present his unique perspective on the sports world.
Let me open this week's column with a question: Aside from the homeless and the incarcerated, is there any class of people in this country that does less for society than college students? All that's required of them is that they go to class a few times a week for about half the year. And do they even bother going? Sometimes. Most, it seems, major in partying or surfing the web -- all at a cost of five figures a year.
Fortunately for the rest of us citizens, we don't have to come in contact with collegians very often. They stay in their academic compounds for the most part, taking up space on campuses that would be better utilized if they were converted to landfills or sewage treatment plants. Once in a while, though, students are thrust upon us in all their slackerly glory.
The NCAA men's basketball tournament is one such occasion.
When I watch these games and see the crowd shots of young people whose time would be served better at the library and instead they're cavorting about and carrying on, it makes my blood boil. Is this the future of our country? Are these the leaders of tomorrow? If so, why even save for retirement?
Look, I'm no fan of brainiacs. On the contrary, they give me the creeps, but I've got to ask this: Where is it written that the No. 1 priority of a college is not academics? I don't pretend to know why bridges stay up or how surgeries get done or how spray paint comes out of a can, but I do know this: All the people that make those things happen have one thing in common: They went to college. Somehow, those lie-about, do-nothing collegians have to evolve into the people who send rockets into space, design skyscrapers and hopefully, one of these days, invent a bullet that can make a sharp right turn in midair.
What I'd like to know is that while they're in school, they're giving it their best shot, so that I can be sure that satellites don't fall on my head because someone didn't show up for physics class during the 2012 NCAA tournament.
So should we ban the tournament altogether? No, there'd be riots in the streets if we tried that, no matter how positive the long-term effects would be for society as a whole. Instead, I've come up with a compromise plan that would elevate the academic game of not only student-athletes, but all students in general.
The first thing I would do is remove the four-year limit on playing eligibility. Athletes can stay on their college sports teams beyond four years provided they are enrolled in a legitimate postgraduate program. I've also come up with strict guidelines about playing time, based on how well student-athletes are doing in school and where they are in their degree pursuit. It looks like this:
Ph.D., done except dissertation: Can play 100 percent of the game with no foul limitation
Enrolled in Ph.D. program: 100 percent
Masters candidate: 85 percent
4.0 GPA: 75 percent
3.5 GPA: 65 percent
3.0 GPA: 50 percent
2.75 GPA: 35 percent
2.25 GPA: 25 percent
All others: not eligible.
If you think I'm unfairly singling out the student-athletes for strict rules, you're jumping to conclusions without reading everything I'm about to write.
The other phase of my plan is this: No students can even attend or watch a sporting event involving their school unless they have a 2.5 GPA or better. Instead, they have to report to the library while the game is in progress for mandatory study hall. That oughta learn 'em.
The economy hasn't been blooming like a rose the past four years or so. Did you ever stop and think that maybe the people who are in charge of it were spending too much time carousing and paying attention to sports back in the day? And the tournament wasn't even as big a deal back then! With all the attention heaped on it now, the pressure to abandon the books to follow it is greater than ever before and seems to get even more so every year.
That's why we have to nip this in the bud right now.
Follow my program or reap the whirlwind, America!
Artemis Arthur Garfamudis originally studied typing at the Miss DuPrix School of Business on Route 22 in North Plainfield, N.J. He has since taken several refresher typing courses. It is with great pride that he types all his own columns.
Follow Art Garfamudis on Twitter @artgarfamudis ... if you dare.