So the other day I'm watching a couple of college basketball's mercenaries du jour -- Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins and Duke freshman Jabari Parker -- go toe-to-toe in the big kickoff spectacular, and something occurs to me that's occurred to me before, but not recently.
To wit: The hated one-and-done culture inflicted on the college game by the NBA might not be as hated as all that.
Here's the deal: If the NBA doesn't institute the No High School Kids rule that has led to the one-and-dones, we're not tuning in to watch Wiggins play for Kansas and Parker play for Duke (or all those freshmen at Kentucky, either). That's because they're playing for the Celtics or Pistons or Lakers or Spurs in the NBA.
Which means college basketball loses some premier drawing cards, even if they're drawing cards only for a season. And the Dukes and Kansases and Kentuckys maybe don't get as far in March Madness, college hoops' cash cow, as they would have otherwise. And that means they're losing some of that March Madness revenue.
And that's a problem. Actually, that's the problem, because we all should know by now that money talks and everything else walks in Division I football and basketball, which are purely revenue-driven professional enterprises who call their unpaid labor "student-athletes" in order to maintain a false front of amateurism.
And so college buckets needs its Wigginses and Parkers and Kentucky whoevers, because they feed the monster. And the monster is insatiable.
That's why, for all the hand-wringing and Oscar-worthy play-acting, the caretakers of big-ticket college hoops seem largely at peace with the one-and-done thing. After all, if they really wanted to do something about it, they could answer the NBA's rule with one of their own: Require any student-athlete who decides to play college basketball to commit to two, or even three, years. And if a student-athlete agrees to that with a wink and then walks after a year anyway, he must reimburse his school for the second (or second and third) year of his full ride.
The Wigginses and Parkers won't want any part of that, of course. And when they wonder aloud what the heck they're supposed to do for a whole year, the colleges could reply thusly: "Go talk to the NBA. Take your lawyer. The NBA put you in this position, so if you have a beef -- and we think you do -- take it up with them. We're done being gussied-up AAU teams because the NBA won't jettison an absurd and antiquated rule."
Of course, the colleges won't do that. They won't pressure the NBA on this. And they'll skillfully look the other way when the Wigginses of the world stop going to class as soon as they decently can.
After all, this ain't Geology 101. It's Gettin' Some 101.