Deadspin, your go-to place for dick jokes, decided to weigh in on the feel-good story on Tony Bennett turning down a raise.
The hot taek: stop feeling good.
Tony, you see, did this for the “marketing,” the “branding of Tony Bennett,” which, sure, Tony, summoning from his internal depths his inner John Calipari and Coach K, thought, what can I do to get more attention for myself, because I crave attention, and I’m not getting enough?
This is a guy who literally told reporters at the national championship celebration that the UVA Athletics department held last week that we should thank Erich Bacher, his childhood buddy-turned-media relations right-hand man, for making him do the 13-minute Q&A that he did with us, because otherwise, and we knew this before he said it, there would have been none.
Your Cals, your Ks, they see a live mic, and they race toward it, knocking over grandmas with walkers if they have to.
(Note from the Editors: Our fact check finds no instances of either Calipari or Kryzezewski knocking over any “grandma with a walker” to get to a live mic. They do appear to like live mics, and to also have quite the fondness for cameras, and more to the point, video cameras, but that appears to be the extent of it. Sorry. -Eds.)
Tony went on vacation to Europe this summer, and talked about how people came up to him to talk about the Final Four, and remarked that he can’t wait until people move on.
Call him a reluctant warrior. Recall that he didn’t want to go into coaching when his playing career was over, because he saw how hard it was on his father, Dick Bennett, who made his name as a D3 coach in Wisconsin, and supplemented his meager income with sales of VHS tapes breaking down his Pack-Line defense.
Having been around Tony the past 10 years, I don’t think I’m out of line saying he’d be just as happy being a high-school coach and teacher as he is now as a national-championship college coach.
Anyway, so, it’s about marketing. This is the cynical view prevalent among the detached bourgeois types that populate the staffs at sites like Deadspin, also known for its annual review of things that get stuck in people’s rectums.
It’s not enough to do a good thing, like refuse a massive raise, and donate money toward the launch of a career-development program for current and former UVA Basketball players.
Which, oddly, sorta, kinda, answers the question posed by the author of the piece, Lauren Theisen, well-known for her recent Deadspin exclusive breaking down three different angles of Cody Bellinger getting hit in the dick and balls.
Theisen, the Ring Lardner of our times, asks, rhetorically, what do the players get?
And, no, to Theisen, whose take on the idiot slipping and sliding on a tarp during a Phillies rain delay is considered definitive in the genre, donating money to a career-development program isn’t enough, because the money could go to UVA Basketball players, who as we know, according to archaic NCAA regs, don’t get to share in the millions of dollars generated by UVA from ticket and memorabilia sales, ACC Network and NCAA Tournament proceeds, sponsor dollars and the rest.
Which, hey, agreed, it’s wrong that the NCAA and its member institutions rake in billions, and all the student-athletes get is an education that comes with asterisks, because the kids have to balance their coarseloads with their responsibilities to their athletics programs, so, are you really going to be able to pursue an architecture degree, and sleep on a couch at the A-school for weeks at a time, and also play basketball?
Maybe, but you’re selling each side of yourself short there, or if you pursue nuclear engineering, or Far East foreign policy.
And, God forbid somebody try to buy you dinner, or groceries, or a plane ticket to see your dying grandma, if you’re short, which you often are, because of all the studying, training, practicing, traveling back and forth to games, playing said games.
I wrote a book on the UVA team’s run to the 2019 national championship, and my co-author and I discussed gifting copies to members of the team as keepsakes, and decided against it, because we didn’t want to be responsible for an NCAA violation.
The issues with this tilted, stupid system are myriad.
Is it ever going to change? Eventually. There’s momentum, slow in coming, but momentum nonetheless. The cost-of-attendance stipends that are now permissible were a small first step. The California legislation aiming to allow college athletes to profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses could be a more meaningful step, especially as other states consider and ultimately enact similar legislation.
College sports as we know them won’t go away; the schools get too much benefit, in terms of marketing from TV broadcasts and media coverage that get their names out in front of prospective students, and the feel-good for alums who then turn around and donate money to the old alma mater.
The solution, some balance of paying college athletes a wage and continuing to pay for their educations, is still off in the distance.
Tony Bennett wasn’t going to change when he was approached about a raise, and then declined.
He obviously can’t give money to his players.
I mean, he could, but then he’d be …
(Under advice from legal counsel, we’ve removed the names of the college coaches that Chris originally wanted to insert here. Not that we’re worried about them suing; discovery wouldn’t be any fun on their side. Even so. -Eds.)
Could he use his platform as a national-championship coach to speak out in favor of a more equitable system?
Does that have anything to do with this story on him turning down a raise, and countering the offer a raise with a $500,000 donation back to the school?
Not at all.
This era is being defined by wealthy people spending money to bend the political system to allow them to make and keep even more.
And in athletics, it’s players, coaches, administrators, team execs and owners, holding out for more, hopscotching from one job to another for more, raising ticket prices for more, dipping their hands into our pockets for higher broadcast-rights fees for more.
Here, we have a story of a guy who is not only not asking for more, he said, no, thanks, I’ve got enough, give it to somebody else.
It’s a feel-good story.
Even for the hard hearts at Deadspin, which nonetheless deserves credit for digging deep into the topic, as it also did with this hard-hitting piece on ass-eating at a Detroit Lions tailgate.
Story by Chris Graham