Friday, February 10, 2012

The System Ain't Just Broke, It Ain't Right

I believe in playing fair. I think most Mom's do. We try hard to teach our kids to play fair, even though we know life doesn't always treat you that way.

Imagine this scenario - you are a hardworking employee in a large company. You've won employee of the year in 2008 and 2009 - the first employee in your division to win it in back to back years, and one of only a few to win it twice. You've received bonuses in the last five out of six years, and you've attracted more customers to your base of operations than any other employee in your division. In fact, you've attracted more customers than all but FORTY out of 120 employees in your company, placing you in the top third of the company for customers. Your company has competitions within the same division and your numbers have looked better than your counterparts in the scorecards the company keeps more often than not. But you've got a very small direct sales region.

Now imagine that there's a fellow employee sitting next to you. He doesn't attract customers to his base of operations. In fact he has very few customers show up. He rarely gets a year end bonus and has NEVER won employee of the year. He's really good in one aspect of the job (let's say round widgets), but not very good in another (let's call it the oblong widgets). Though he does have a large sales region.

Suddenly, employee number two gets promoted OVER YOU to one of THE elite divisions for the purpose of handling the oblong widgets. Why? Well, he's really, really good with the round widgets so of course he deserves to suddenly have more money and the prestige associated with the oblong widget elite, even though the customer base and demands of the position are quite different than the round widget job, and he's not proven that he can properly handle the oblong widget. Also he has that large sales region that management is convinced he'll bring to the table even though he's not done a good job selling oblong widgets to them in the past.

As frustrating as that sounds, what if you've seen several employees get promoted over you? Employees who don't attract customers to their base of operations, but have the POTENTIAL to do so. These employees have a lot of family members, and we all know that every family shares the same interests - uh huh. I can't wait for my brothers to share that love of home decorating, and knitting that I possess.

I grew up a college football fan. I adore the sport. Momma says that from a very young age, I would quietly sit beside Daddy watching. In fact I can't really remember the first game I attended, but I can, without hesitation, tell you it was at East Carolina. Because I am a second generation alum, and I LOVE MY PIRATES.

That is why I am so disgusted with college football and the system. In my scenario, ECU is employee number one. We have won back to back conference championships (employee of the year), we've been to bowl games 5 of the last six years (bonuses), and our attendance at football games is number forty out of 120 schools playing at this level (customers we've attracted to our base of operations). We've also played the other schools and hold series winning records over almost every one who has jumped over us (the scorecard). But we don't have a large television market (sales region) - according to the powers that be. They conveniently ignore that the product on the field can allow you to sell to outside regions.

I've watched with dismay and increasing disgust as other schools have been called to the corrupt system of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) conferences while my alma mater has been ignored. The BCS is supposed to be the elite football playing schools. It was originally set up to allow those elite schools, and possibly an outsider or two, a chance to play in the elite bowls and have a "national championship" in football. Ain't no way it's working that way. The entire process has become a joke. No school should jump in and be able to start touting its access to the system, when it hasn't proven its ability to compete, and win employee of the year in the group it's already in. And the constant refrain has been - they have a big TV market. Whoopdeedo - I have a ton of cousins. That doesn't mean I need to rent a hall for the family reunion so we can all knit together.

Now I don't begrudge the schools who jumped over me. But I do resent a system which keeps pulling schools in because they have a big, albeit dysfunctional family, and therefore could potentially bring lots of eyes to the television. A family who doesn't attend family events in person (i.e actually GOING TO THE FOOTBALL GAME), is not a family who is suddenly gonna attend the family reunion via teleconference or Skype their way to it. 

A system which rewards your football for the luck of being in a big city is a broken system and broken as all get out. As employee number one, I hold fast to this - 

"Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you." Edward "Blackbeard" Teach (translation - I will not surrender.)

EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY - GO PIRATES (to learn more about ECU, our athletics and our facilities plus some eye opening facts about our television ratings and markets, please take a moment and look at this website which was set up in early 2011)


  1. Excellent article that highlights the pitfalls of College Athletics. It certainly seems to be all about money and the mythical future potential earnings.
    As news breaks in North Carolina that tuition will increase at all 16 state schools by an average of 8.8% the inequities are highlighted.

    Athletics are an important part of the college environment, but it should be as a complement. We must demand that our leaders ensure fairness and a return on investment for the state.

    If the NCAA will not do it then there is no reason North Carolina can not ensure equal access to all schools that merit it.

  2. AT - I could not agree more. The incredible inequities in the current system do not allow for a fundamental American concept of working hard and achieving based on that work. When some are rewarded simply for where they live, there is a stink in that. I will have two sons in college at the same time. I want them to enjoy sports as I did, but more importantly I want them to get an education at a reasonable price which will prepare them for life. Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment.

  3. Unfortunately I don't see this changing but at some point I hope there is someone smart enough in a high enough position to say "hey, howe about those Pirates?! argghhh"

  4. Evelyn, this calls for an editorial. You will receive a lot of feedback. I admire your sense of justice; it permeates all that you are.

  5. Thank you so much! Unfortunately, I agree with Bev - I don't see it changing any time soon, but when something isn't right than what does it say about us if we don't point that out?

  6. Excellent analogy in your article.

    I'm a glass-is-half-full type, but when it comes to ECU football, I wonder if we will ever get there.

    I get so tired of the ACC and others doing all they can to keep our program down. Go Pirates! Arrrgh!

  7. Thanks, Paul. I have to agree with you on both points. But all we can do is continue being Pirates - Arrgghhh!!


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