April 09, 2013

Greedy college basketball players

According to the New York Times, Rick Pitino, Head Coach of the University of Louisville's Basketball team recently reiterated his position that college athletes should not be paid. In his view they already are in the form of 'room, board, books and tuition.' 

Of course Mr Pitinos' embrace of the amateur ideal at the heart of college athletics doesn't extend to those doing the coaching. A man has to make a living, after all.

Rick Pitino's annual base salary is 3.9 million dollars. In addition, he will receive a $425,000 bonus as a reward for winning the national championship this week. Pitino's contract runs to 2022 and will pay him roughly $42 million plus bonuses if he completes it. But what price can you really put on the wonderful job he does mentoring the young men placed in his charge?

"In a lot of ways," Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich says, "I would look at him and say he is underpaid." 

Fortunately Mr Pitino is not solely dependent on his day job as an underpaid college basketball coach. He is available for  'appearances, endorsements, and speaking engagements' starting at a very reasonable $50,001.

Of course, the NCAA rulebook ensures that purity of college athletics remains untarnished by barring the student athletes themselves, from participating such commercial activities

 As befits an avid sports man and Kentucky resident, Pitino loves thoroughbred race horses and has his own stable. In fact one his horses is scheduled to run in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.  In a truly touching gesture, Pitino even named two of his horses after the student athletes on his basketball team

"The Bellamy Road colt was a spectacular big, big colt," Pitino told C.L. Brown of the Louisville Courier-Journal "He was lanky, had great potential and goes the distance. I said I got the perfect name for him. I said 'Gorgui.' " That would be for Cardinals' 6-11 center Gorgui Dieng.

The coach didn't ignore his guards after he looked at the second colt who "is very, very quick — has a great first step, so to speak. I said I got the perfect name there, too."

That name was Siva. As in Peyton Siva of course.

"They're two of my favorite ballplayers and young men," Pitino said. "I told both guys. They're super excited."

Clearly there are some things money can never buy, and the kind of bonds Pitino has forged with his young charges is one of them. 

Then there is the tragic story of Louisville player Kevin Ware whose gruesome injury during a nationally televised college basketball game might have ended any prospect of a professional career.  Coach Pitino was right there by his bed side giving that brave unfortunate young man moral support

What a guy!

Fortunately Coach Pitino is not the only pillar of moral integrity in the sport of college basketball. Another inspirational leader is Coach Krzyzewski of Duke University. (which paid him $7.2 million in the 2010 calendar year)

Like Pitino, Coach K is well aware of his responsibility to the sport, and especially concerned about of the corrosive impact that the lure of money can have on the integrity of the college game. He is particularly critical of the many college basketball players who abandon their education after only one year in pursuit of NBA riches.

Krzyzewski says that once a player comes to college, he should be required to stay two years. Otherwise that player undermines the academic emphasis of college basketball.
"A school can’t be an extended stay hotel,"

Well put Coach K! Its time these kids learnt to give something back.
With men like Pitino and Krzyzewski at the forefront the ethical foundations of the college game look to be in good hands for many years to come!

June 29, 2011

Average opinions within countries.

Lets say I am sitting in a hotel bar in any country in the world (lets say at a Marriott in Beijing.) Next to me is a fairly nondescript caucasian man in his late 30s. He is wearing equally nondescript clothes. (lets say sneakers, blue jeans and and plain t-shirt) He has medium length hair and no visible tattoos and piercings. I have yet to speak to him. The only piece of information I have been given about him is his nationality. What can I infer from this single piece of information? If he is German I think I can infer a great deal. If I know he is German I can probably predict his opinion on many many subjects with a great degree of accuracy. I will be able to take a very good guess as to his likely position on private gun ownership, on the Iraq war, on nuclear power, on the cause of the banking crisis, on the death penalty, on public education, and on Israel's foreign policy, on abortion and on the relative merits of private vs public health care systems. If he is American, I will be far less able to predict his opinions on these issues given the limited information I have at hand. Why is this?
It could be argued that Germans are more knowledgable about the world they live in and greater German uniformity of opinion on these issues is the result of a greater understanding of the issues. I doubt this explanation. In fact I believe that if we were to control for level of education, IQ and knowledge of current affairs there would still be a far greater diversity of opinion among caucasian sneaker and T-shirt wearing late 30s American males than among caucasian sneaker and T-Shirt wearing late 30s German males. Why might this be the case?

August 20, 2009

'Challenging' BBC Programming

First posted on Samizdata November 3 2008

What BBC types mean when they talk about their commitment to 'challenging' television that 'pushes the boundaries' is really a commitment to making shows that offend the sensibilities of old fashioned white people. Socially conservative whitefolk are the only politically permissible target for contempt, and mocking their foibles, tastes and standards of decency as meanspiritedly as possible is progressive and therefore right by definition.
America is the ultimate target for scorn because it is largely made up of and run by such people.

August 19, 2009

School Uniforms

Posted on Samizdata July 2009

I was in constant uniform related trouble at school, so much so that I was called into the heads office. To be fair he actually tried to rationalize uniforms to me, comparing them to workplace dress codes. When I told him that the comparison didn't hold water as I was free to choose my place of employment but not my school he reverted to the age old 'you will wear it because we say so.'

In other words
'We will force you to pretend that you endorse our 'community' our values and what we stand for, despite the fact that we can't convince you of their correctness using reason and logic'

To this day I have no problem with wearing a suit to work but despise school uniforms and all they stand for.

Anti-racism and authoritarianism

Posted to Samizdata in July 2009

Whatever you believe about race these days in the privacy of your own head is pretty irrelevant. Having the wrong opinions about these issues is professional and social suicide so broadly speaking people with a stake in society don't.

People higher up the socioeconomic pyramid aren't less racist than those lower down because of any greater enlightenment on their part. They are because they have far more to lose by refuting the orthodoxy.

The defeat of racism in this manner has given the current cultural establishment the idea hat such authoritarianism is a fundamentally legitimate means by which to stamp their political and moral assumptions upon the populace.

The elite's ideas about the evils of racism at least had the virtue of being essentially correct. Most of the other opinions they want to violently foist upon us are not.

Grade inflation

Comment to Samizdata 18 August 2009

I want to make a distinction for a moment between the value of education andthe value of grades. The value of the former is absolute. The personal value of being exposed to information and ideas can't be diminished by other people being exposed to them. Quite the opposite in fact; conversations between 'educated people' in the informal sense of the word are synergistic. When a group of people is talking from a higher shared base of knowledge and understanding there is a net gain for everyone in the group. Compare the quality of debate on Samidata with that in your local pub if you doubt this. However as many people have pointed out, education has nothing to do with grades.

The only purpose of a grading system is to enable third parties such as Universities and employers to make comparisons between student A and student B. A grade has no value in and of itself but only relative to and in comparison with other grades. In this it is just like money.

This should be a statement of the bleeding obvious, but given the education system's determination to print A grades the way the bank of Zimbabwe prints bank notes, it seems that is isn't.

The media obsesses about grade inflation every year but as usual it asks entirely the wrong questions. Are the A Levels easier than they were ten or fifteen years ago?
While the answer is obviously yes its also a pretty pointless question.

Generally speaking graduates at whatever level compete for jobs and university places with others of the same age cohort as themselves. Therefore the question we want to ask is not. "Is an A grade in 2008 the same as an A grade in 1988?" This is no more important than obsessing about what a pound today is worth today compared to twenty years ago. As long as it remains useful measure of value, whether the currency system has base units of 1 100 or 1000 is of little importance.

The real purpose of grade inflation in my view is that it serves as a political tool to obscure the vast differences in quality between a state education and a private one.

The grading system now in place serves to obscure information rather than reveal it.

If they set the grade ceiling is low enough that anyone reasonably bright and industrious can hit the highest grades they can mask the gulf.

It also means that they can determine who fills the places in the higher education system in accordance with their social engineering project and their egalitarian ideology rather than by academic merit. After all if every applicant to Oxbridge has maxed out grades they can use any criteria we want to distinguish between them .

Damn, I hate these people.

May 18, 2009

A thought provoking quiz

This is the most fascinating political quiz I have ever taken. The questions are both educational and deeply unsettling.

It reminded me that people, however famous are much more complex, contradictory and interesting than their reputations.

Its also also illustrates just how fragile and specific to our time and place the social consensus whether on moral and political isssues really is .