Behind the lines: The WWE meets the NCAA

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Can you be a sports fan and still be sickened by the over-emphasis that comes with sports in the modern era? If you answer no, please don’t read this.

I enjoy the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and tune in occasionally on the women’s tournament. Does that make me sexist? Some would say yes, but since I rarely watch games played by either college men or women during the regular season and can count the NBA and WNBA games I watch in a season on no hands, I would argue it’s more disinterest than misogyny.


I like high school sports, boys, girls, varsity, JV, or freshman level, it doesn’t matter, I just enjoy watching the local kids play. I’ll even drop in on a game when we’re in Pittsburgh at that level.

I was a rabid Wyoming Cowboy fan when I was a student. Many of the guys on the team were friends of mine, and I watched the Cowgirls as well in their infancy since I knew many of the women on the team as well, but overall, I like the high school game.

There is nothing wrong with the college game. It is played at a higher level than the prep version and I venture to Rustler Gym often to watch the Central men and women play.

What I don’t like and refuse to engage in is the sensationalism that surrounds the college game today. The player portal is a prime example.


The kids at the college level before the portal emerged made millions for coaches and universities. Sure, the good ones received full-ride scholarships, but how many players used those scholarships to get a degree and graduate into the working world?

In the case of Jim Brandenburg, as head coach of the Cowboys when I was a student in the late 1970s and early 80s, everyone did. He was a taskmaster when it came to academics, and his teams showed that on the floor.

Not all Cowboy coaches shared that emphasis on the classroom. Head coach Benny Dees and arguably the best player to ever wear the Brown and Gold, Fennis Dembo, come to mind. Benny was more of a stand-up comedian than a role model as head coach at Wyoming, and Dembo was famous for ditching class even with two full-time, work-study students assigned to him just to get him into his seat.


Dees spoke at the Wyoming coaches association annual summer meetings many times and was always entertaining with his humorous schtick. One joke that comes to mind is this one.

Dees stepped to the microphone and said, “My wife likes to talk during sex. She just called me from the Holiday Inn.” Such was his level of humor.

In a room full of fellow knuckle draggers, it brought big laughs. He’d be in trouble in the overly sensitive, aware, very “woke” world of coaching today.


A joke like that would bring a bevy of concerned, talking heads on nationwide 24/7 news channels in our present level of insanity.

Witness the idiocy over the waving hand from an LSU player toward Iowa star Caitlin Clark.

Clark is the best player in the women’s division this year, no question, but she is a lightning rod for racists on both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

To me, she’s just a great player, I don’t care if she’s white, black, or some other race, she’s just a great shooter who rebounds well and who dishes assists like a female version of retired Utah Jazz guard John Stockton. She is remarkable, but the Bayou Bandits and the LSU Lady Tigers were the better team.

LSU handled Clark and the Hawkeyes fairly easily in the championship game. There was no story there, one team had the better player, the other was the better team, and congratulations to Louisiana State University for a national championship.

The media ignored the play of the Tigers, the play of Clark, and the Hawkeyes and zoomed in on a tight focus on a gesture made by LSU forward Angel Reese towards Clark near the end of the fourth quarter.

Clark had made a similar gesture to her bench in an earlier tournament game, but Reese did this as an affront to Clark.

The “you can’t see me” gesture comes from the ranks of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and popular professional wrestler John Cena. Evidently, the world of wrestling “entertainment” (not the real sport at the high school and college level) has spread to the rank and file of all amateur athletics.

In support of the WWE, it’s as real a version of wrestling as the NBA is of basketball these days. Both are entertainment, not a true athletic competition, but the NCAA remains a well-officiated, well-organized, and incredibly well-played version of basketball.

Reese should have been hit with a technical foul by game officials the second she made the Cena influenced gesture. It was obviously taunting, and a similar act would have generated a 15-yard personal foul for every player in the NFL, a league that is over-officiated in my opinion.

No doubt a technical on Reese would have generated the same inane attention of mainstream media desperately seeking something to be offended about, but it would have sent a message to players at lower levels.

Thanks to Reese, and the game officials ignoring the taunt, you can expect to see the “you can’t see me” gesture generating dozens of technical fouls next fall at your local gym.

It wears me out after a while. I’ve found myself blocking the multiple athletic feeds I’ve joined on Facebook every time a post appears about Clark, Reese, or the gesture.

Let the women play, let the men play, let the girls play, and let the boys play, leave all that sensationalizing crap aside, let them play the game.

Athletics is one of the few venues left in American society that wasn’t hounded by politics, but the shield is fading, and the extremists are moving in, ruining this bastion of Americana as surely as the MAGA and the Woke have done in every other aspect of our lives.

Enough already.


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