This past weekend, the conference carousel continued to spin—perhaps spinning out of control—as founding member of the Big East Syracuse and long-time Big East school Pitt announced that they were abandoning the conference for the ACC. This marks the second time the ACC has raided the Big East, taking a total of five programs away. It was made all the more shocking by the absence of even a courtesy call to the Big East of the schools’ intent to bolt the league.
These schools aren’t the only programs to switch conferences this year, just the most recent—and the way the conference upheaval is unraveling the fabric of college sports, they won’t be the last. At the root of it all, however, is money. The billions of dollars available in TV contracts, the tens of millions of dollars generated by the BCS, and the growing desire to generate more tens of millions through conference championship games, have made the development of the SuperConference almost inevitable. For traditionalists, it marks the end of an era with old rivalries being sacrificed for cash. For realists, the inevitability of this movement makes it no less disturbing. The power of money can be a truly frightening thing.
Money’s power can also be overwhelming even when you aren’t a major collegiate sports program or dealing with tens of millions of dollars. Every single one of us wrestles with the allure and appeal of money—and it is an appeal that can be detrimental to our values. Paul warned of this when he wrote to young Timothy, saying:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10).
It is not my intent to say that these moves in the collegiate ranks are evil, but it is a useful warning to us about how the pursuit of money can disrupt our lives and derail our hearts. The words of Christ press the point home:
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (that is, money).” (Matthew 6:24)
The question we must answer is who or what will we serve?
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain