Sometimes the hypocrisy that marbles our games is sad, as when a high school coach notorious for infantilizing his players claims he’s building men.
Sometimes it’s ironic, as when players clad in helmets developed for their safety features figure out how well the new headgear can work as a weapon. Then the players collapse the lungs of their opponents, break their own necks, and otherwise invent damage that would have been impossible without the safety helmets.
And sometimes the hypocrisy is just funny.
Beginning in March, the month when even lots of people who don’t know tar heels from tangelos pay attention to college basketball, Fox Sports Net will be broadcasting programs featuring former coach Bob Knight and long-time broadcaster Billy Packer analyzing the NCAA men’s tournament from a sports book in Las Vegas.
It would be refreshing if this move were to be accompanied by the cheerful admission by everybody involved that college basketball generates a fantastic amount of gambling, since broadcasting from one of the places where the activity is legal would seem to constitute the embrace of the symbiotic relationship between the game and the act of putting one’s money where one’s mouth is. Instead, Billy Packer told reporters on Monday that the show wouldn’t mention gambling. This is no doubt because the NCAA prefers to maintain happy fantasy number eleventy seven on its list of same, namely that people watch the games for entertainment purposes only. But Mr. Packer also said that he wants the broadcasts to be part of the experience of watching games in Las Vegas, which, he maintained, “ranks second only to watching the games from courtside.”
Am I the only one led to wonder what – besides the opportunity to bet – earns Las Vegas that distinction? Top notch guacamole? Especially crunchy chips? Numerous wine-dark couches of buttery-smooth Corinthian leather set in front of the world’s largest high def TV’s?
And after a program from Las Vegas analyzing, which is to say handicapping, college basketball games with no mention of gambling, what comes next? A cooking show about the delights and nutritional benefits of vegetarian cuisine filmed in a steak house?