Tuesday, April 10

After the championship comes change

If you're a fan of NCAA basketball, you're probably aware of the controversy surrounding Coach Calipari's starting five of the NCAA Champions, the Kentucky Wildcats.  If you're not, well, maybe you're a Louisville fan.  Or, once the madness of March (which extends into April) is over and it's opening day of baseball, you've moved on.  Or you just don't like Kentucky and/or Calipari.  Regardless, I can forgive you for not caring about Calipari and his rumored conversations with the NY Knicks as well as all of the noise accompanying Calipari's statement that he hopes there are "six first-rounders" on the Kentucky championship team.  That's part of my point: the "one and done" rule that allows NCAA players to declare for the NBA draft after one year of college.

I'm not going to address the rule just now.  It's controversial.  Some people blame the NBA; some people blame NCAA.  My point is that kids are, in Calipari's case, encouraged to make dramatic changes after the championship game.  And their moves are motivated by personal and professional gain.  Shocking!

What prompted this was a story about a completely different team in a completely different sport, if one considers chess a sport.  In this case, an entire team is transferring to another university after having won its championship.  Apparently there are no or different eligibility rules, no red shirt rules, no compliance considerations, etc.  These kids won their championship and got a better offer at a different university.  So they packed up their trophy and are leaving.

What's weird are some of the responses.  And even some of the suggestions that such a thing is unthinkable, as though an entire roster of players from other sports, specifically football, basketball, baseball, or soccer, could even consider such a thing.  Not with the NCAA.  But we should also remember the fire sale of the then Florida Marlins 1997 World Series Championship team.  Change happens after achieving a pinnacle.

Sure, it's probably unprecedented.  But the team is leaving Texas Tech to go to St. Louis which is, I have learned, the home of the World Chess Hall of Fame.  Their new university is Webster University, getting more than its fair share of attention.  For now.  But Webster also has resources for chess grand masters that Texas Tech does not.  Why is this really any different?  It could be said the starting lineup of a championship basketball team may be abandoning the rest of the team to take advantage of opportunities.  In this case, it could be said the entire team of champions is abandoning an entire university to move and stay together to take advantage of opportunities.

I think that what may trouble people is that fine line between taking advantage of opportunities and being opportunistic, or maybe they just don't like change.

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