College basketball coverage tends to fall on the side of fluff. Most of it for decent reason too, as few adults enjoy screaming about unpaid laborers being imperfect while attempting a continuity ball screen.

Through decades and decades of Dick Vitale and others creating godlike personas out of mundane human coaches with as many flaws as the rest of us, though, the adults in the room have often skated any criticism. Some of it is since it's far too easy to simply discuss the sport in terms of virtue, fun and whatever else than it is to acknowledge the ugly monsters in the room.

It's not right or wrong, although there rests a responsibility to tell the truth, but it's certainly easy.

There's the less altruistic, as well. Those purposely traversing the sport's landscape looking to vilify what or whoever, or turn something a hero, without caring if there's any meat to put on their fluffy-pieced-bone.

After that, there's even worse. A few members of the media, fans or those within blogspace(dot)com who form a hive of sorts. A highly respected college basketball person writes or says something, no matter the context, then the hive runs with it as fact.

In 2019, at least on Twitter, this appears mostly harmless since most of this hivemind mentality rests in the usage of data — which is useful — but a similar thought was likely once had when people dismissed the folk who believed Vitale was someone too eager to not only godify coaches, but look beyond transgressions in the name of college basketball.

Data, to be clear, isn't evil. The messengers who use it, depending on where else they go with their platforms, can be. Simply because a person with a Twitter account is swell at sending out the tweets, it doesn't inherently mean that person is worthy of their platform, a soap-box to stand on, or anything else that comes with what appears to be blind brand loyalty — but for people — on the mean streets of Twitter.

In reality, it's often hard to tell the difference between talent, hard worker and grifter.

If you're still here, a Column of Enchantment is all cannon. Find previous episodes here. 

Tickle me a sometimes idealist if you want; though it be nice if there was better balance. For every fluff piece on some walk-on player enjoying cheese or a head coach's ability to overcome an obstacle he created in the first place, there should be regular reminders what's accompanying problematic coaches, players or universities when applicable.

Take Liberty as an example. I wrote about the school in length back in March, as did Laura Wagner from Zombiespin and Cam Newton for Mid Major Madness, in which the three of us highlighted abhorrent happenings from the school's history.

Cam wrote one of the most courageous, bravest things I've ever read. He knew the backlash awaiting him when he wrote it, but had the conviction to publish it anyway. Cam continues to hold his conviction close to his heart, as do those who know and care for him. Still, he's faced an onslaught of backlash from bigoted people in the name of something they embargoed themselves from understanding. After all, to them, it's just sportsball!

The hate has become justified by way of normalization.

A situation involving conviction, though a different kind, applies to the entire staff of Deadspin when they walked from their jobs in rebellion to the mandate they must to stick to sports.

In both cases, the people involved were trying to bring balance to a world where sportsball is celebrated often without nuance or a cynic's eye. For it, everyone faced criticism, or were called entitled. or bashed in unsubtle hateful ways… or worse.

And yet, not nearly enough people empathized with Cam's situation or took sincere caring to Deadspin's sacrifice, as we have the usual suspects doing propaganda like work without a hint of lessons learned.

Liberty isn't alone in becoming a normalized entity thanks to sportsball. Grand Canyon University, a for-profit school, has entered each of the last four seasons receiving hype it certainly didn't earn thanks to the school's ability to give access to journalists.

Similar things have happened to coaches. Few remember the debacle surrounding the Oregon Ducks head coach, or the short-lived outrage that happened when North Carolina was caught up in an alleged academic fraud scandal. Does anyone even remember Mark Few's long, problematic walk when talking about NIL rights?

In my opinion, certain things can still be celebrated, but if there's legitimate problematic issues hovering around the joyous occasion, we wouldn't be doing our job if we failed to mention it when writing about {insert complex issues that might also have positives from a sports perspective involved}.

Those were stories in the moment only forgotten about by a sportsball loving nation not just because fans were ready to move on. So were the media who were either too incapable, unwilling or uncomfortable to continue to push the envelope. It begs a question to be asked; honestly. If something improper (or insert any other negative connotation) happens in the realm in which us sportsball people cover, but we fail to regularly — at the very least — mention it in work later consumed by fans who might not even be aware, are we complicit in aiding and abetting future horrors?

Sincerely, it's something that has trotted about the insides of my cranium after every college coach origin story I've published. These first-time head coaches who seem swell, who have wonderful background stories to tell, am I helping in creating a monster that has largely dominated college sports for its entire existence?

Plainly put, in a construct designed for the powerful to remain with all of the power and all of the money, while keeping those without any from obtaining even the slightest, are we not tasked with covering more than just the surface-level of people even if it means facing scorn from fans or colleagues who are access merchants?

It's balance. It's to have a colleague's back when a school noted to exclude certain people is being attacked by those who attend it. It's not ignoring the whispers you hear when investigating something unrelated to the story you're working on, but instead continuing to dig deeper. It's to not signal-boost problematic people with already large platforms because you want to piggyback off their coattails, hoping your kissing of the misogynistic ring will make you one of the boys.

Oh, I'm binge-watching the television program Community for the second time in my life. I haven't seen it in several years and never finished the last two seasons. Currently in season two and it appears as though the show has aged well.

Oddly enough, just the other day the cast reunited to discuss the show. Want to know what they didn't do? The cast present didn't lionize Chevy Chase for once being an important comedic figure and a member of the show. Instead, in their own way, those on the panel knocked down the problematic figure a few pegs.

If only college basketball fans, media and the like can take a hint from… the cast and creator of a TV show cancelled eleventy-billion times?

Joseph Nardone has been covering basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. He currently contributes to Forbes and Clutchpoints. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.

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