In early Chinese thought, heaven was considered "round" and earth "square." Westerners from St. Anselm to Kant taught that round and square are opposites. I will explore the connections between east and west (round and square) in a blog that takes seriously the little details of our lives. Round and square; east and west—never the twain shall meet (it has been said). Except when they do, and that is the whole point of this blog.
From Round to Square (and back)
For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project: http://magazine.beloit.edu/?story_id=240813&issue_id=240610
A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again). *Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Just Do It Over (1)—BCS National Championship Game
Everyone hates the BCS. Except university presidents at "football schools." They love it when the checks come in for playing in a "bowl game." Fifty years ago, there were a handful of bowls, usually played between the winners of major football conferences and encouraging eager fans to travel to warm climates and spend a nice chunk of the December bonus (these things were once common beyond Wall Street), on a once-in-a decade to once-in-a lifetime trip to watch your Minnesota Gophers defeat UCLA 21-3 in Pasadena on January 1, 1962. There was pride, there was microeconomic choice, there were travel agents, and there was pigskin.
There wasn't a whole lot of money for the teams.
Something has happened in the last fifty years, though. The 1962 Rose Bowlwas quaint. The 2012 Rose Bowl (The Grandaddy of Them All) was, well, lucrative. Yup, seventeen million dollars...lucrative. University presidents (and coaches and athletic directors) love that. Minnesota (which hasn't been back to the Rose Bowl since that sunny New Year's Day early in the Kennedy administration) also gets a cut, because the Big Ten Conference shares money between its schools. In other words, big time schools get big chunks of money whether they win or not, and Minnesota hasn't "won" in fifty years (and eight days).
You may think you know where this is going, but you're probably wrong. We're pretty much done with the Gophers and the Rose Bowl. Let's not forget, though, that in most athletic "cultures," sporting a 3-9 record, even with a leader named "Coach Kill," should not bring forth much of a paycheck. It does, though. Minnesota gets a cut of the $8,500,000.00 that the University of Wisconsin packed away for losing a tight contest with the Oregon Ducks last Sunday. That's a do-over...of a sort.
Like a Simpson's episode, though, this post will now veer off to another (related) topic—tonight's football game. The powers-that-be call it the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game. Ostensibly, it is the Sugar Bowl, but this game is about as close to, say, the 1962 Sugar Bowl as the McCormick Reaper is to a John Deere T670 Combine.
You see, both Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama will be taking in nine million dollars tonight, just for playing. They like to share, of course, so their conference(s) will get a cut of the proceeds. Just as the University of Minnesota (slightly better than last place in the 2011-2012 Big Ten standings) deposited a check for several hundred thousand dollars, all members of LSU's and Alabama's conference(s) will also get a check.
Big-time college football powers love this. Their teams can stink. They can fire their coaches. But they will still get their checks, year-after-year. This is not true for the "Little Sisters of the Poor," a name Ohio State's president gave to what he saw as "lesser" football programs. You see, if your team is selected for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, you'll get paid, but it won't change your bottom line much. Even though Ohio University beat the University of Idaho in a 24-23 thriller on December 17th, they (and their conference underlings) shared...$750,000.00. That might sound like a lot, but divide it in half, and then share it with ten or more others on each side. It starts to look a little like a professor's salary after that.
Which brings us to...today. At 8:30 EST, the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide will just do it over. This may not have registered up until now, but they are playing again. LSU already beat Alabama this year. It was a hard-fought contest between defensive gladiators (or so said the football-loving intelligentsia). LSU won...6-3. Wow. It almost makes you want to watch it again on ESPN Classic (a "do-over" network that we will examine under this topic in coming weeks). No, we have to watch them play again, this time for all the marbles (and eighteen million guaranteed dollars). The computers and voters and vapors from pigskin cosmology have decreed that these are the two top teams in the country. Now we must endure the rest.
It gets even worse. They're from the same conference (the SEC, and, no, they are little concerned with securities and exchange). They won't just split half of the eighteen million dollar payout with their respective conferences. They'll split it all. Even the worst team in the Southeastern Conference will get twice the joy when the paycheck arrives. They're both from the same conference, and they have already played this season.
And now they are playing again. Tonight. You could watch them do it over. Resist. Please. Better than a revarnished football showdown, reread a truly fine book or re-watch a wonderful movie. For the former I would recommend Claude Lévi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques or Evan Connell's Mrs. Bridge. For the latter, you couldn't go wrong with Fargo, Casablanca, or (the greatest movie of all time), The Seven Samurai. Even Citizen Kanefor the fifty-third time would be better than LSU-Alabama.