Your Weekend Reader for May 25-26

by | May 25, 2024 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Memorial Day weekend dawned cool, partly cloudy and breezy in Corvallis — but Sunday and Monday promise a little bit more sunshine.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, it was sunset time for the Pac-12 Conference, where the former Conference of Champions is playing out its last tournament after 108 years — and where the Beavers baseball team chose to play what we hope will be its worst game of the season.

How sad was the Pac-12 baseball tourney? John Canzano captured it well, I think, in this detail from Scottsdale:

The Pac-12 emptied the storage facilities and is holding a blowout sale. There were hats, keychains, lanyards, golf balls, hair ties, stickers, and felt pennants featuring the conference’s logo alongside the logos of its 12 members. T-shirts hung on discount racks from old conference events (i.e. softball and golf, football games, the conference basketball tournaments, etc.).

“Buy one for $10, get one free,” a sign read.

While the tournament was underway, the Power Five college athletic conferences (well, really, now the Power Four) agreed to settle a batch of antitrust lawsuits filed by athletes — and the $2.8 billion settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge, seems likely to forever alter the landscape of college athletics. For starters, the settlements pave the way for a revenue-sharing system in which schools have the option of setting aside about $20 million in revenue each year to share with athletes. (For purposes of comparison, the Oregon State University athletics department had $91.6 million in revenue in fiscal year 2023 — and that was a record for OSU.)

The Associated Press’ Ralph Russo does an excellent job of explaining the settlement in this story.

Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group, for years the best Pac-12 Conference reporter in the country (I’ll miss you, Jon), has a good piece looking at the numerous unanswered questions raised by the settlement.

Les Gehrett at the Gazette-Times had an illuminating interview with an attorney who specializes in sports and entertainment law and raises questions about the settlement’s implications for OSU and Washington State University, the only two remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference. Remember, the clock is ticking — OSU and WSU have just two years to rebuild the conference. (The G-T doesn’t offer subscribers the opportunity to send along “gift” links — it should, though — so this story may be behind the paper’s paywall, and I offer no apologies for that.)

Billy Witz at The New York Times explains how the settlement basically jettisons the NCAA’s century-old business model that defines athletes as amateurs — but still leaves many unanswered questions.

If I had to guess how this all turns out, my money would be on this shocking outcome: Rich college programs will get richer. Everyone else will get poorer. And, although I hope I’m wrong, I think I know which camp Oregon State University is likely to fall into by the time the dust settles.

Speaking of OSU, the Beaver baseball team is almost certain to be one of the 16 sites to host one of the four-team regionals when the brackets are unveiled Monday. But a super-regional slot the following weekend seems to be a long shot at best: Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive explains why.

Meanwhile, the Portland Pickles baseball team has announced plans to host a “Pac-2 Memorial Night” on June 3 to give OSU and WSU fans a chance to “drown your sorrows together.” Hey! Maybe the Pac-12 can ship some of that unsold Pac-12 merchandise Canzano was talking about up to the game!

Moving briefly toward other topics: This is the season for banal commencement speeches at colleges and universities across the country. Here’s The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on why a bad graduation address isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Anora,” a movie by American director Sean Baker about a Brooklyn sex worker who marries to son of a Russian oligarch, is the winner of the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. But it’s not the only movie that caused a commotion (and controversy) at Cannes: In addition to Francis Ford Coppola’s divisive “Megalopolis,” there’s “The Substance,” a body-horror movie with Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley, and “Emilia Pérez,” which the Times’ Kyle Buchanan describes as “a crime drama that’s also a trans empowerment epic that’s also a full-blown movie musical.” Buchanan explains why those films were among the most divisive at Cannes. (Both won awards at the festival, by the way.)

That’s it for this week, except for this: It is Memorial Day weekend, so I tracked down the text of Gen. John A. Logan’s 1868 proclamation setting aside May 30 of that year as the first national celebration of what was then called Decoration Day, a day set aside to remember those who have given their lives for this country. In that proclamation, Logan wrote:

Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remains in us.

That’s well-said. Enjoy the weekend, but take a moment or two to reflect on Logan’s words. See you next week.

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