Friday, October 4, 2013

The System by J. Benedict and A. Keteyian

What is THE SYSTEM? Authors Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, in their new book narrated on audio by Mark Deakins, define it as the modus operandi, the interlocked network of sub-rules and recruitment payouts, the well greased machine that is college sports. Subtitle is "The Glory and Scandal of Big Time College Football," and if you wonder why they would place the words "glory" and "scandal" together as if compatible, it's because those words are compatible in sports today. Local sports reporters, including liberal ones like at the Tucson Weekly, routinely praise athletes for taking recruiting bribes, including hookers, since they don't get paid salaries. Money means power in politics and the military, but also in sports, where even college coaches can make $3 million a year, with extra "win" bonuses, while budgets average $60 million for top ten teams. Meanwhile, student academics and other college faculty come second to athletic programs, and many players are lucky to graduate. (Many struggling kids wouldn't, without special tutors and favoritism.) Having done their own homework during the 2012 season, the authors detail every aspect of college play, following the multi-million dollar broadcast deals, the slush funds, the concussions, and the machinations of coaches seeking to motivate their players with dreams of the big time...while they themselves cash in as local heroes. Bigger and more popular than ever, college football is the epicenter around which a city's identity and loyalty orbits. All infractions are forgiven by fans, who don't seem to mind that most players don't even come from the state to which they've been lured by aggressive recruiters. What's a "janitor"? That's a team employee assigned to clean up player misconduct. But does it sound like the authors are anti-sports? They are not. In fact, Benedict is a Sports Illustrated writer, while Keteyian is a correspondent to 60 Minutes Sports, and author of Money Players and Raw Recruits. Of course narrator Deakins did, ironically, appear in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the movie The Devil's Advocate. Another audiobook, by the same publisher is, ironically, THE IDEALIST: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty by Nina Munk. Read by Susan Nezami, it tells the story of the Millennium Villages Project in sub-Saharan Africa. The project was backed by George Soros to the tune of $120 million.  

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