By LINDON DODD
It’s the eve of one of the biggest events of the year in sports. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars and the fate of a television network are at stake. In a team meeting with one of its participants a vote is about to take place. The tally will decide if the team will boycott the Final Four.
In a novel written by a local author, this scenario is at the heart of the story. Bob Padgett has written a story torn right from today’s headlines. At the heart of the discussion rests one of his pet peeves which is the power of money behind NCAA sports.
Padgett is a traditionalist who feels like some of college basketball’s best rivalries are being abandoned by the power brokers in the NCAA bureaucracy. The breaking up of old alliances and the forming of new super conferences is something he finds troubling. CBS recently paid more than a billion dollars per year just for the rights to televise March Madness.
“My motive of writing the book was my anger towards the college presidents and the NCAA in Indianapolis whom I consider one and the same.” In regards to conference realignment, “It’s hypocritical. It’s all about the dollars and not the welfare of the student athlete.”
His critique of college sport’s ruling entity goes even deeper to the apparently non- consistent enforcement of the rules and arbitrary punishment which allows for almost no chance of appeal in many cases. “They have absolute power,” bemoans Padgett. He cites other well known figures who share his animosity like legendary Hoosier ex-coach Bob Knight who has long advocated for another ruling body.
Another theme of the novel involves billions of dollars being earned by university corporate entities with no money going back to the players. Padgett raises the issues of paying the players for their part in the riches being earned from television revenue each year.
Padgett himself is a former basketball and football coach who has two stints in teaching. His early career in education ended when he left the profession due to forced bussing in the 1960s in Louisville. The chaos he remembers made it almost impossible to be an effective educator. He then spent 13 years in supervision and ultimately labor relations management at Phillip Morris.
He cites numbers of his division alone — one of about 20 — where every day his line workers produced 12 million units (i.e. cigarettes) daily. It was his followup position in labor management talks with nine separate unions that led to stress and burnout with contract talks often going on 24/7 for two to three weeks. When the Louisville plant decided to close and move to North Carolina he decided to return to his first love of teaching.
Padgett is most proud one particular student in his senior English class while at DeSales named James Markert. Markert has published several books including one that has sold well regionally which centers around Louisville’s Waverly Hills Sanitarium titled, “The Requiem Rose.” Markert is now a Hollywood screenwriter who edited Padgett’s manuscript for the novel.
Padgett is currently in his ninth year as a Spanish teacher at Charlestown High School. He speaks seven languages and is currently learning Mandarin as he plans to spend a year teaching English in China after retirement from the Greater Clark School Corporation after the 2013-14 school year. He also had a teaching stint at Providence High School.
About writing a book he admits that it was with both the urging of a lady friend and a little voice inside his head kept him motivated. His attempts at using a computer left him a bit uninspired so he eventually ended up writing the manuscript by hand with pen and paper.
He has been equally at work on a detailed marketing plan for the book composing a long list of names to whom he plans on sending a complimentary copy. It should come as no surprise that many are sports figures and broadcasters.
He is in talks to schedule an interview with another Providence connection name Zach McCrite whom is now the afternoon drive time host of ESPN in St Louis. McCrite knows another sports figure with St Louis connections, sport’s broadcaster Bob Costas to whom he hopes to forward a copy.
Bob Padgett wanted to mention that he did not forget his students at Charlestown High School. He requested that they be mentioned on the book’s cover notes, “I specifically asked Amazon to mention Charlestown High School. I love teaching them and I really love the kids. I wanted them to feel like they were somehow a part of it.” Bob Padgett was among my son’s favorite teachers during his two years of Spanish at CHS.
I won’t give away the result of the team vote or whether the boycott actually takes place. To find out if the Final Four goes on as usual you will have to read the book. I will give you one clue. The insurrection does spread beyond that single locker room and we learn if the ideal of one single player spurred on by two former coaches who run a recruiting service can start a revolutionary movement which will forever change the landscape of college basketball.
Bob Padgett’s new book, “A Boycott of a Basketball Game” can be ordered on Amazon. Com beginning March 29.
Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org