The NCAA: The Inception Of Sports
If you haven’t seen Inception, you may not want to read this. There are no spoilers per se, but I do give away some plot lines. I don’t think it will effect your movie going experience, but consider yourself warned. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
Inception is the biggest movie in the country right now. It’s made a lot of money, and gained a lot of critical praise. None of that can happen without the “suspension of disbelief.”
Suspension of disbelief is what allows us to accept the things in movie that we know not to be really true. It has to exist on several levels for you to really enjoy Inception, or any film.
On the most basic level, you have to suspend your understanding that the person on the screen is Leonardo DiCaprio, and he’s an actor. You have to accept that even though he’s the guy who was in Growing Pains when he was a kid and was the heart throb in Titanic, that for the next two hours, he isn’t. He exists in a world where Leonardo DiCaprio the actor does not.
Click MORE to find out how NCAA sports are just like Inception.
Another level of the suspension of disbelief in film is that things often times happen in a time frame that are likely shorter than normal. In Inception, Ellen Page’s character seems to grasp the notion of controlling dreams, controlling the world within dreams, and planting ideas in people’s heads in those dreams rather quickly. We accept it, because we know they’ve got a story to tell, and only so long to tell it.
Finally, in Inception, or any other sci-fi movie, we have to suspend our disbelief of the plot itself being plausible. You have to accept that there is technology to enter the human mind through dream invasion. If you don’t accept that premise, you can’t accept anything about the movie.
We ignore what logic tells us. We accept our suspension of disbelief for the sake of entertainment.
Just like we do with college sports.
College sports are a big money industry, big, big money. A big money industry in which the principal figures in the industry, in this case the players, are not paid aside from their tuition, room and board. The NCAA and major college sports programs ask us to suspend our disbelief that even though the money is flying around the players, both at the college level with boosters and friends of the program, and above them at the pro-level with big time agents, that players accepting gifts is the exception and not the rule.
Recently it was revealed the the NCAA is investigating North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. The charge being investigated is that several players, from all schools attended a party at 49’ers running back Frank Gore’s house, and that the players made the trip on the dime of NFL agents.
Last month, USC was punished harshly for repeated violations in their football program, many involving former star Reggie Bush.
The suspension of disbelief exists on many levels.
The coaches, who many times aren’t arranging the improprieties, turn their heads to them. That way they can keep telling themselves, and more importantly telling us, that they’re not happening. They can feel surprised when they find out a player took a houseor a flight. They’ve suspended their own disbelief that of this billion dollar industry, that their players are often getting a piece of it.
The players, who are often the ones taking the gifts and payments, have convinced themselves that they’re not going to get caught. That in the day and age of cell phone cameras, bloggers and TMZ, in this day of text messages and emails and Twitter, that someone, somewhere, won’t find out. They’ve suspended their own disbelief that we don’t know.
The schools themselves suspend their disbelief as well, at least publicly. USC fired their Athletic Director and sent back Reggie Bush’s Heisman. As if behavior like this wouldn’t be tolerated. Pretending that it hasn’t been tolerated for years.
We as fans are as guilty as all of them. We like our college sports, just like we like our movies. We like to think that these are kids playing for the love of the game and different than the multi-million dollar athletes who drive Bentleys and arrange ESPN specials. Most people who have been to a university with a major sports program (and I attended two), saw plenty for themselves that they know was against the rules. Even if you didn’t, you’re smart enough to follow the money. You know what must be going on.
We’re all pretending, and when someone gets caught, we all feign outrage. The NCAA as an organization, the programs, the coaches, the players, and us.
When we’re reminded that we’re all pretending, we all get upset. Just like we wouldn’t want to be reminded that the whole concept of Inception is impossible, and everyone is acting in the middle of the film.
I don’t blame the players for taking money that they feel like they deserve a piece of. I don’t think they’re entirely wrong.
I don’t blame the coaches and the programs for wanting to do their best to compete. If one is doing it, then to get the best players, all of them probably have to do it.
I don’t blame us, we just want to be entertained. If we don’t suspend our belief of the ugly truth of college sports, we won’t be.