The NCAA, specifically when it comes to basketball and the concept of “amateur athletics,” is on the brink of change. The one and done rule is going away, and the NBA is making strides to build its G League into a viable alternate if the concept of playing for free for a university reaps the benefits doesn’t sound very fair.
The value of amateurism is certainly at an all-time low among those that cover the sport, but colleges and the NCAA work hard to preach the value of amateur athletics for its “student athletes.” And the spectacle that is March Madness, while exciting, offers some strong rebukes of that value. The latest comes from Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, who feels that the parents of his players should get invited to NCAA Tournament games so they can see their children play.
Sampson told a heartbreaking story on Saturday about an unnamed player whose parents couldn’t afford to fly to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and get a hotel room to watch one of his players in the tournament.
“It’s not money, it’s travel. And hotel rooms,” Sampson said. “I had one of my kids — I’m not going to mention who it is — His parents would like to come and the only way they’d be able to is drive.”
Eschewing flights on short notice and a long drive doesn’t solve the problem, though. The tournament means at least two nights in a hotel, and possibly more if the Cougars win, which they did on Friday.
“For a lot of people that’s not a big deal. But it’s a big deal for that family. They don’t have the money to do that. So they would have to decide how they would do it,” Sampson said, noting that the family asked if they could sleep on the floor of their son’s hotel room.