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By The Commentators

Playing Basketball In The Snow

By The Commentators Posted February 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm

This is Lew Margolis.

Now that the snow has melted and the supplies of road salt depleted, I have a question. How are a postponed UNC/Duke basketball game, Notre Dame volleyball, Thursday night football in Chapel Hill, and fake courses, heavily populated by athletes, related? Each is an example of the university compromising its mission of advancing scholarship, research, and service (and, I might add, common sense) to the rules and demands imposed by other non-educational institutions, such as the ACC, the NCAA, or ESPN.

As of 1:50 pm on February 12th, the original game date, UNC classes were cancelled and offices closed, but this EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY Alert Carolina message somehow did not apply to the basketball game. Indeed, nearly 3 hours later, after hours of relentless and increasingly dangerous driving and walking conditions, when any of our mothers would have said, “You are crazy for going out,” Alert Carolina notified us that the game was still to be played, because, in the words of the Director of Athletics, “ACC policy states that we should play the game if the teams, officials and games operations staff can safely get to the arena.” I am curious to know how the leadership of UNC, here on the ground, as the snow and ice accumulated, justified or even rationalized putting so many people in harm’s way, because of the policies of the ACC. The campus was closed, the roads impassable, even the pedestrian pathways to the basketball arena no doubt treacherous, and the game was not postponed until 5:40 pm, well after hearty (or perhaps foolhardy) souls might have set out for the Smith Center, but more importantly, hours after it was plain as a blizzard that the game should be postponed. All for a basketball game. Taking hours from courses and study for road trips to South Bend, burdening the citizens of Chapel Hill with a football game on a weeknight, and creating courses to keep athletes eligible reflect a similar loss of focus on the mission of UNC.

I further wonder about a dilemma for WCHL, at the heart of the emergency preparedness system for severe storms in our community, not only sharing key information about health and safety, but also playing the crucial role of friendly neighbor to those who may be stranded in their homes due to ice or fallen trees. Why put station management in the difficult position of having to decide between this critical, sometimes life-saving role, and the obligations to basketball sponsors and listeners? Similarly, I wonder about the additional burden on firefighters, police, and EMTs to try to balance their essential functions with a basketball game.

Making tough decisions is expected of leaders. Making obvious decisions should be – well – obvious.

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