Thursday, December 30, 2010

How the NCAA undermines the academic enterprise

I love major college sports; I have enjoyed having athletes in class--they actually tend to run the gamut in terms of how well they do, and I appreciate the time management skills required to be a varsity athlete while performing well in class.

But part of the academic enterprise is instilling in students the importance of not bullshitting.  The NCAA undermines this when it states things like:
Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd, because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the NCAA.
But who are the members of the NCAA?  The schools!  This statement meets Harry Frankfurt's criteria for bullshit, and is an example of why bullshit is harmful.  Frankfurt:
Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it all. By virtue of this, bullshit is the greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
It seems to me that those of us who have anything to do with colleges and universities have an obligation to avoid bullshit.