The NCAA today is in many ways a classic cartel. Efforts to reform it—most notably by the three Knight Commissions over the course of 20 years—have, while making changes around the edges, been largely fruitless. The time has come for a major overhaul. And whether the powers that be like it or not, big changes are coming. Threats loom on multiple fronts: in Congress, the courts, breakaway athletic conferences, student rebellion, and public disgust. Swaddled in gauzy clichés, the NCAA presides over a vast, teetering glory.

Taylor Branch, The Shame of College Sports (via theatlantic)

A brilliant piece, that. Truly. But in case you haven’t the time to read it and you’re wondering just how obnoxiously vile the NCAA is, allow me:

Some time ago, I was a talentless geek on a low-rung NCAA Division I basketball team. A nobody amongst a pile of nobodies who once played an in-conference game in a hotel ballroom, sadly. A basketball powerhouse, we were not. Only our girlfriends & equipment managers knew we existed for sure.

My brother died in the middle of my junior season. I spent a month or so at home, a thousand miles from my team, missing 8 or 9 meaningless games that I probably wouldn’t have played in anyway. During that month at home, the local gym where my brother & I grew up playing basketball had a dedication ceremony renaming the court after him. There was an invocation of some sort, an unveiling of a plaque and a quick ceremonial “First Game” consisting of me & my other brother & our friends. The gym was christened in fine fashion, I believe — and then everyone came back to my parents’ house for Honey Baked Ham and 8,000 different side dishes.

When I returned to campus some time after that, I was almost immediately summoned to the Athletic Director’s office. The NCAA had officially put me on probation for “playing in an unauthorized game while in-season,” and they put my school on probation as well.

To summarize: the NCAA can go fuck themselves in that ugly, gaping void where their soul is supposed to be, the end.

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