I don’t always see eye to eye with him politically, but, man, do I love reading Charles Pierce. He’s angry, funny and insightful. But more than anything, he’s a brilliant, brilliant writer. When he’s not posting on politics at Esquire, he takes the occasional foray into sports at Grantland, where you shouldn’t miss him. His take on the sad demise of the Big East in the wake of its losses from conference realignment may not break any new ground, but it’s undeniably eloquent. For example,
The Big East is losing big teams and replacing them with smaller ones, because, as is the case with so many colleges in so many conferences around the country, the administrations of some of its members have let their greed eclipse both geography and common sense. Pittsburgh is leaving for the ACC, and West Virginia is joining the Big 12. The latter is a perfect measure for the silliness of the whole affair. The West Virginia fan base is famously fervent, and more than willing to travel, but the state’s median household income is $38,000 a year, and now, instead of trips to New Jersey and Philadelphia, those fervent fans will have to haul that fervor to Lubbock, and Waco, and Stillwater, Oklahoma. It is absurd, but conferences are nothing more these days than the staging areas for extended television programs, and the Mountaineers are simply moving their show to another studio.
That captures some of how I felt when I first heard about the end of the Oklahoma-Nebraska series. I’m sure many find all this movement exciting, but it makes me more than a little sad to think about what we’re losing and what they’re replacing it with, even if they won’t come right out and say it.
… But most of the dynamic is propelled by the merciless drive for profit and the soulless imperatives that are engaged when sports becomes about “producing content” rather than playing the games. None of this is reversible anymore. None of this is escapable…
Rick Pitino, of all people, as a metaphor. Make sure you read the whole thing.