Thursday, July 09, 2020

A possible lesson from Covid: Sports is sports, and education is education

Two months ago, in May 2020, which seems like two decades in the age of the coronavirus, I wrote in this post:
In response to COVID-19, if higher education is forced to stay focused on its mission and reduce its extravagant expenses on athletics, then it will be one of the few benefits to come out of this global catastrophe.
Ahem.  It could happen.

First was an announcement from the Ivy League, which became the first Division I conference to suspend football for the fall:
The presidents said in a statement that sports could not be played under campus-wide policies that include restrictions on student and staff travel, social distancing requirements and limits on group gatherings.
“With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk,” the statement read.
Of course, Harvard and Yale are not the champs who win the ultimate prize.

And then the Ivy on the west coast, Stanford, had more news:
Stanford will discontinue 11 of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year: men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling.
Yes, synchronized swimming.  You read that correctly.

And you know well where you have watched synchronized swimming.  In Hail, Caesar ;)

Ok, you perhaps have not watched that movie.  But, surely in the summer Olympics. Yes?

In the US, universities are the prep schools for wannabe Olympians!  And, Stanford is a leader in that:
USC topped the list at every Summer Games from 1928 through 1964 (tied with Cal in 1948). UCLA’s run went from 1968 through 2004. Stanford had the most in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Now, it does not mean that Stanford coaches only US athletes for the Olympics.  Nope.   Athletes come from all over the world to "study" at American universities so that they can get access to all kinds of personnel and infrastructure support.  Remember the scene in Bend It Like Beckham where the young women celebrate getting the soccer scholarship to an American university?

This bizarre aspect of American higher education investing gazillions on athletics is truly an awful American Exceptionalism!  I will quote this again:
In no other country’s university system, after all, does sports play anything like the central role it does in American academic life. Men do not go to Oxford to play cricket; the Sorbonne does not field a nationally celebrated soccer team. Even in the most sports-mad countries, sports is sports and education is education. That’s a better system.
Will the novel coronavirus eventually lead American universities to a better system?  I am not holding my breath on that!

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Howdy mOdi + नमस्ते tRump = Screw Indians!

During my trip to India a few weeks after the Houston rally where mOdi toadied up to tRump, people were still talking about it.  Knowing my political perspectives, the extended family did not engage me on those issues.  To  friends who asked me about it, I said India should not trust tRump.  He will screw India at the earliest chance, I warned.

Most of India didn't worry much about tRump because the people who voted for mOdi share something deep and fundamental with tRump and his minions--hatred for Muslims.  That shared Islamophobia made mOdi and his toadies warmly embrace tRump, even if he didn't care a bit about the "shithole" conditions in most of India.

I have been worried about the two politicians selling hatred of the other so openly.  In a post in March 2016--when tRump was doing his warming up act in the primaries--I blogged that the largest democracies have mainstreamed hatred.

mOdi and his adoring Indian-American toadies believed that they could thread the needle through tRump's racism and xenophobia:
“Part of what makes it complicated for Indian-Americans is that they don’t like Trump for the most part and yet they like Modi,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Riverside and the director of, a policy research and data firm that focused on Asians and Pacific Islanders, told Power Up. “They bristle against the kind of nationalism that Trump represents here in America, but then they still support Modi regardless of what he is doing in India. So, there is some ideological inconsistency there, but that is the kind of complicated world that we live in.”
A few months ago--which in the age of the coronavirus seems like an eternity--tRump and his trophy wife went to India, and the mOdi gang put on quite a show.

They forgot the old story from Hindu mythology that a scorpion, however friendly it might seem to be, is a scorpion that will eventually sting you, even to death.

The scorpion did its thing.

The freeze on work visas (H-1) was the first sting.
Nearly half of a million H-1B visas issued between 2004 and 2012 went to Indians. Along with their dependants they accounted for more than a fourth of the Indian-American population, which is currently around 3 million.
And then came the regulations regarding international students.

This headline says it all about the Indian perspective in response:
Trump admn slams door on F-1 visa students whose institutes have moved to online-only mode
So, whatever happened to Howdy mOdi and नमस्ते tRump?

This news report refers to that special "friendship" between mOdi and tRump:
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state chief and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to leverage his friendship with US President Donald Trump for the benefit of millions of Indian students studying in the US so that they are not made to leave the country.
Do these people know anything about tRump?  Have they not been following various reports on the narcissistic sociopath that he is?

Blinded by their Islamophobia, mOdi and his toadies failed to recognize that their brown skins are not welcomed by tRump.
He hates the brown-skinned.  His party hates the brown-skinned. And a good chunk of his party hates immigration, especially of the brown-skinned.