Channing Crowder's Jersey And The NCAA's Land Of Make Believe

Channing Crowder talks in hypotheticals. "Hypothetically," he says, he doesn't have any more of his old Florida jerseys. Some local businessmen, he says, really liked his play. "Hypothetically."

Crowder's hypotheticals are just that: not something that actually happened. Because for him to sell his game-used jerseys would be an NCAA violation. So Crowder's just partaking in a game of pretend. We'll indulge him and play pretend too.

In our pretend world, everyone recognizes student-athletes have value because they're athletes, not because they're students. Perhaps in this world, boosters who have a lot of money wouldn't mingle regularly with teenagers who do not. And those teenagers wouldn't own keepsakes which may hold no sentimental value to them, but have a definite value to those wealthy boosters. In this world, supply and demand don't exist.

What a world that would be! Where telling a kid he owns something, but he can't sell it makes lots of sense. Where the NCAA would act as an organization of member institutions, rather than a police force enforcing the rules it made up. Where there wouldn't be absurdities like the NCAA's jurisdiction ending the moment someone leaves school, leaving them free to brag and boast about all the violations they committed the week before. In this world, the NCAA enforcement committee wouldn't be glorified mall cops.

The reality isn't so magical or logical as our hypothetical, but we can still pretend. Let's pretend we don't live in a world where every major booster has a game-used jersey framed in their home office. Let's pretend we don't live in a world where game-used jerseys are everywhere on eBay. And let's pretend we don't know how they got there. I know, it's hard, but we can do it. After all, the NCAA pretends every day.