Sometimes a Quaint Notion

A worthy gridiron rival recently shamed alma mater on national television. That’s great. It’s just the sort of trip/fall/lose-that-ball pie in the face which should prompt donations from already alligator-armed fellow alums.

Eh. Probably not.

What resulted fell into the tiger pit of unintended consequences and receiving just desserts. Prestige game as it was, if Arizona administration had treated outside forces with less deference and considered the homefolks above mammon, it may’ve improved the squad’s chances of victory. Surely less embarrassment would’ve ensued.

My school went for the cash. The do-re-mi, baby. A major sports network dangled a big bag of money before the accountants who today determine the athletic department’s direction. Bottom-line nabobs as they are lucre trumped the old virtues. Any old virtues. No one even bothered with lip service about “the fans.”

So making greed is good palatable, that Saturday also became an opportunity to promote the university’s “brand.” Just the sort of fresh-scented aerosol which ought have allayed most of the unsavory stink.

At one time in the not too distant past our “selling out” might’ve incited conversation. Impolite conversion at that. In a more contentious era the practice could even have roiled segments of the university family. Perhaps in these times that’s a quaint notion. After all, what aspect of American life hasn’t been infected by selling out?

It’s so common does anyone notice anymore? How soon until alma starts offering to tailor whatever traditions remain to the highest bidder? There are reasons why they’re called “traditions.”

Who can’t hear the green eyeshade gang now stroking prospective “partners”?

“For a tidy sum we can shape our traditions to fit your purposes.”

If these acknowledgements of continuity can be commoditized and converted into revenue streams, let us indeed tweak or erase altogether then reconfigure what had given us distinction, had distinguished us, what had been “ours,” for another dollar.

Maybe exhibiting craven behavior has become our new national trait.

For an untimely late-afternoon kickoff, the Arizona campus would serve as the network’s open air studio for the whole day. I imagine the department’s more starry-eyed nabobs saw live and taped video remotes from our charming campus’ bosky corners and quirkier sites as terrific recruiting pitches for near future students and athletes.

So eager for nationwide exposure, one shouldn’t speculate whether university negotiators wore round heels during contract sessions.

Besides squeezing a bigger check, the university also sought pandering itself in the most commercial terms possible. Not content with showing a little ankle, the joint would display a whole lot of leg.

Hype further inflated the huge event. After all, too many mucks running Arizona’s big gym maintain an inferior mindset. Not that they themselves are minor league; that the institution represented is. Certainly if one mistakenly believes that then it must be. However, my cohort, the ones before us, graduated from there. We’ve made it a big-time address.

I expect those who succeed us will continue pushing our line forward.

It’s unfortunate all the mercenaries who’ve parachuted in to buff their resumes before helicoptering out to what are perceived more esteemed academic groves will never share our view. Or pride.

For the contest which incited this post, the university put itself entirely at the network’s disposal. Somehow caring less for fans than school administration, the network waited until six days before dictating our game start. Meaning if you lived in the vicinity the odd time and the unusual traffic patterns encountered were simple nuisances.

However, if distance turns attendance at an Arizona home game into an endeavor, then no early alert advantages existed. Out-of-town rooters would needed to have coughed up premium prices for transportation and lodging, assuming both were able to be arranged on such short notice.

This start time inconvenienced West Coast viewers because the network scheduled this game for East Coast primetime eyeballs. Wonderful. Those having greatest interest in the contest were discounted because likely indifferent potential viewers elsewhere rated higher importance.

In the meantime, what ought have been a night tilt started earlier. Those couple of hours affected game conditions. Nearly as much as the incessant build up.

Southern Arizona weather doesn’t become temperate for several weeks yet. Tucson isn’t Ann Arbor or Chestnut Hill. The Desert Margaritaville offers more than either. Daytime Sonora Desert heat explains why most early season home contests wait until sunset. But television’s exigencies made demands, and Arizona athletics obeyed to the letter.

It displeased me Arizona lost. And lost badly. What “teachable moments” can arise from this sporting ignominy?

None. Just observations.

Arizona is one of the finer public schools west of the Pecos. Yet those in positions to boost the institution often make poor-mouth associations. Usually in favor of colleges whose yellowing glories mask less than sterling current conditions.

Why seek validation from or favorable comparison to contemporaries who are below one’s level of standing?

Too many mercenaries regard Arizona as a stepping stone rather than an end prize. Don’t these nabobs imbue it with an inferiority that is their own? Actually don’t they transpose their own inadequacies upon the institution?

By offering what they consider improvements, these functionaries intend to raise themselves as well. That’s all fine, but what if the school is superb and it’s the nabobs who weigh it down with unrelated deficiencies?

If that’s the case then don’t their efforts to lift turn out to be drags?

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