He’s got a cause: the NCAA. It’s a big fat monopolistic punching bag, and nobody thumps it better than Patrick Hruby.
In recent months, from his perch atop Sports on Earth, Hruby has become the NCAA’s most prolific antagonist. He does it with a stylish and nasty relish that could spring only from righteous conviction. In Hruby’s telling, the NCAA exists to serve itself, and the coaches and athletic directors who profit from the weird anachronism of amateurism.
The victims, Hruby writes, are athletes held to impossibly obscure and dense regulations: “In college sports, justice isn’t blind; it’s a blind, trembling man throwing darts in a pitch-black room, hoping to strike a coveted recruit getting a free pair of shoes, or maybe a star player receiving a cash-stuffed envelope from an overzealous friend of the program. And things can never be otherwise. Not so long as the NCAA continues to promote and defend a false ideal rooted in ersatz morality; an unworkable mandate that makes no practical sense; a corrupting system that turns legitimate, well-meaning oversight (specifically, looking out for the safety and welfare of campus athletes) into a risible, dispiriting wabbit hunt, an endless, unwinnable war against both human nature and basic economics.”
Hruby brings a sense of humor to the attack: “I wanted to stop. Take a break, at least. For months — years, really — I’ve been railing against the essential unfairness of amateurism, the blinding hypocrisy of the National Collegiate Athletic Associationand the “Catch-22″-shaming absurdities of campus sports. Problem is, there’s just too much to write about. From the ongoing Ed O’Bannon case to NCAA president Mark Emmert’s increasingly ridiculous public pronouncements, college sports are the gift that keeps on giving, a bottomless Christmas stocking full of coal. As such, I’m launching a new, semi-regular feature, dedicated to cataloging, commenting on and sometimes just laughing at the entire wheezing enterprise.”
Read Hruby for a while and you come away with contempt for the NCAA. Here Hruby writes about the NCAA sidestepping liability for concussions and pushing it off to individual schools. With Hruby’s content you can count on plenty of research and evidence to back up his thesis: “According to the NCAA’s injury monitoring system, college athletes suffered 29,225 concussions from 2004-2009 — 16,277 of those from football alone — a disconcerting number that is almost certainly low, given the fact that concussions tend to be significantly underreported.”
You also come away with contempt for gasbags like Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Hruby nailed Stoops with this zinger: “If Stoops was more full of it, he would qualify as a human sewage treatment plant.”
One story Hruby has yet to do is that of NCAA executives gorging at the trough. As a non-profit (hah!) the NCAA files an annual 990 report, listing executive compensation. The last report filed, for 2010, listed 17 execs whose total compensation was more than $250,000. Of those, eight were paid between $300,000 and $400,000; one was paid between $450,000 and $500,000; three were paid between $500,000 and $600,000; and the top-paid exec, James Isch, made $760,480.
NCAA executive compensation dovetails obscenely with the salaries of athletic directors reported by Hruby. Ironic how lucrative ‘amateurism’ can be.
But I digress. The point is Patrick Hruby — he’s on fire. As a child of the 60s, I say, with admiration, “burn, baby, burn.”