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Thursday November 16, 2000

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By Ryan Finley

Arizona Daily Wildcat

...Sports agents are - in extreme cases - the lowest form of life on this planet.

A good agent, unhappy with his number of clients at the professional level, will sometimes try to lure current college players into an agreement, often giving the "starving student" some cash to play with.

These agents have driven UA men's basketball coach Lute Olson to close all Wildcat practices for the entire 2000-01 season. Nobody can set foot inside McKale Center during men's basketball practice. Not the media, not the fans. Nobody.

Is this what the world of collegiate athletics has come to? Have coaches become so damn afraid of losing their players to the money of the NBA that they will forsake their fans and freeze out reporters?

Coach Olson, you're leaving me out as a fan. From time to time in the past two seasons, I would pop inside McKale Center with a drink in between classes and see how practices are run. I would admire you, Coach, for the way you ran practices. There was never much cursing. You actually coached, not relegating drills to your assistants.

In fact, when my parents or brother would come to town, we'd pop inside the arena to see you and your team practice for 15 minutes. We weren't looking to make money off of your talent. We weren't looking for a scoop. We just wanted to see the UA's fabled hoops program in action.

I guess I'm not worth it, coach. I guess the people who go to practice because they can't afford real tickets aren't worth it, either.

Coach, your logic escapes me. Do you think agents will stop just because they can't track these guys down after practice? Any college student knows that you can't eliminate cockroaches, they just show up. Coach O, you can't avoid agents.

Like vermin, agents will find players that want the dough. In some cases, players - looking for a new car or a better lifestyle - will seek them out.

In the end, coach, it's a player's decision. If they want the money enough, they'll take it.

We don't want those kinds of players in a UA uniform, anyway.

Any basketball player that is willing to sell out the program and (more importantly) his pride for 30 pieces of silver is a traitor to the program and shouldn't be allowed on this campus, anyway...

...I would appreciate some "We're with you, Ryan" applause right about now...

... I saw a bunch of communists, er, soccer fans celebrating today because the US men's soccer team squeaked past Barbados - Barbados! - to ensure a trip to the 2002 World Cup. I don't know what's scarier: the fact that soccer is fast becoming a mainstream sport in America, or that people will ditch school (as these guys did) to watch a U.S.-Barbados game...

...What juggernaut is next on the U.S.' schedule? Burkina Faso? Sierra Leone? I heard Trinidad and Tobago have squads. Maybe the U.S. could beat up on the, well, what would we call them, the Tobaggans?

...Speaking of faraway places, the Icecats will spend eight days in Iceland (fitting place for a hockey tournament, ain't it?) playing hockey. Is there anything in Iceland, aside from Bjork and her old band, the Sugarcubes? Try to bone up on how to say "he shoots, he scores, hey goalie, you suck!" in Icelandic...