Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Your University of Louisville battling basketball Cardinals suffered a loss off the court this week as the NCAA confirmed Louisville must forfeit over 100 wins including its 2013 National Championship, says The New York Times, ESPN, USA Today, NPR and Sports Illustrated.

I should tell you up front, this is a bit of a heavier week, so bear with me.

The NCAA made its decision in June of 2017 as a result of the 2015 escort scandal. The university appealed and on Tuesday, the NCAA denied that appeal, making the punishment official.

It’s the first time a Division I basketball team has been stripped of the title.

Said interim university president Greg Postel:

I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong. We disagree with the NCAA ruling for reasons we clearly stated in our appeal. And we made a strong case — based on NCAA precedent — that supported our argument.

In addition to the forfeiture of its 2013 title, Louisville will void 123 wins from 2010-2014, all of its tournament appearances including the 2012 Final Four, and about $600,000 in tournament appearance payouts.

And so the banner came down.


Bleacher Report says Louisville interim head coach David Padgett questions the timing. He told reporters Tuesday:

It was something that none of (Louisville’s current players) were even here for. I don’t want to go on a tangent about the NCAA, but the least they could have done is wait another month or so until our season is over.

Former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino called the decision “unjust,” says ESPN. He gave a news conference at the law firm of New York’s Greenberg Traurig. Said Mr. Pitino:

Did a few of [the players] partake in parties they didn’t organize? Yes they did. But that had nothing to do with an extra benefit. That had nothing to do with helping their eligibility or performance in winning that championship.

Those parties did not enhance our players’ ability to win a national championship or go to a Final Four.

One of those players, my long lost cousin Kevin Ware, a guard on the 2013 championship team, tweeted:

And so they did. He tells them:

It’s dumb. At the end of the day, the mistakes that Andre McGee made didn’t have to do with us. The NCAA is a joke.

That’s echoed by fellow teammate Luke Hancock. He tells ESPN:

But they can’t take away the experience. And they can’t look at it as if it never happened, because we won those games.

Michigan coach John Beilein agrees. Mostly. He said:

We didn’t win it all. We lost to a great team, but we didn’t win it all. If some other people are going to come and say, ‘Hey, you won it all. You’re the champions,’ then we’ll take it. But I’m not going to declare that.

So “I would not say that, but I won’t stop you.”

And then there’s Twitter:

But SB Nation may sum it up best: “vacating wins is stupid.”

They say more about the stupid with the why it’s stupid and what might be a more apt punishment, but sometimes the headline does the work nicely.

Matt Bevin, Wiki Commons

Shell Game: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says video games are more to blame for the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, says Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Kotaku, The Verge and Ars Technica.

Mr. Bevin talked with Leland Conway on WHAS Thursday morning, saying “guns are not the problem,” as he turned away from gun control to focus his attention on violent media.

There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them. They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life.

These are quote-unquote video games, and they’re forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech. It’s garbage. It’s the same as pornography. They have desensitized people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency.

The Supreme Court already ruled on this one, says the Los Angeles Times, in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn. in 2011. The late Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion, citing lack of causality demonstrated in the studies.

Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.

I mean, I’ve been playing a violent video game all night. The only thing it’s doing is keeping me from getting my work done. But listen: the world needs saving and if it takes me an extra two hours to get the column done, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Forbes talks with Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson. He says:

…Speaking as a researcher who has studied violent video games for almost 15 years, I can state that there is no evidence to support these claims that violent media and real-world violence are connected.

The Washington Post looked at a study back in 2012: “Ten-country comparison suggests there’s little or no link between video games and gun murders.” And Forbes makes the same correlation, citing countries with as much access to the same media we do without the same outcomes:

Japan is a great example of how vapid these claims truly are. Japan is a country of 127 million and yet there are rarely more than 10 gun deaths total per year in that country. That’s an astonishingly low number. In 2015, 13,286 Americans (out of a total of over 320 million) were killed in homicides, suicides, mass shootings and accidental death by guns. That’s 1300 times the number killed in Japan.

And one could argue if Japan had the same amount of guns per capita as we do, those numbers would be higher, but that’s not a thread the gun lobby wants you to tug too terribly hard.

Which brings us to an article in November from The New York Times. It looks at the work of University of Alabama Criminology Professor Adam Lankford. According to the Times, his study found:

…a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting. This relationship held even when he excluded the United States, indicating that it could not be explained by some other factor particular to his home country. And it held when he controlled for homicide rates, suggesting that mass shootings were better explained by a society’s access to guns than by its baseline level of violence.

So a reduction of the number of firearms — not an elimination of, but a reduction — could very well be the key to reducing the number of shooting and reversing the trend. Which is just math.

But it looks like we’re moving the other way. NPR reports Kentucky Senate Bill 103 proposes permitting teachers or staff to serve as armed “school marshals” on campus if the individual has a concealed carry permit.

When I think back, I don’t know if I had a single teacher of whom I’d feel better knowing they had a gun.

Jennifer Lawrence, Wiki Commons

Nope: Deadline says Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers used public statements by Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence in an attempt to get a class-action lawsuit against him dropped on Tuesday. Six women filed the suit accusing Mr. Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

His lawyers argued the suit is written so broadly it would include every woman he’s every worked with and because Ms. Streep and Ms. Lawrence have both said they weren’t assaulted, the suit should be dropped.

The Streep/Lawrence response can easily be summed up: you can keep my name out of your mouth.

Fortune, Forbes, CNN and Rolling Stone say neither was pleased.

Ms. Streep released a statement calling the move “pathetic and exploitive.” Ms. Lawrence released a statement, too. It read:

Harvey Weinstein and his company are continuing to do what they have always done which is to take things out of context and use them for their own benefit. This is what predators do, and it must stop.

I stand behind the women who have survived his terrible abuse and I applaud them in using all means necessary to bring him to justice whether through criminal or civil actions. Time’s up.

USA Today and Variety report Mr. Weinstein apologized on behalf of his lawyers and his spokesperson, Holly K. Baird, says he won’t name names:

Mr. Weinstein acknowledges the valuable input both Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence have contributed to this conversation and apologizes. Once again, moving forward, Mr. Weinstein has advised his counsel to not include specific names of former associates; and to avoid whenever possible, even if they are in the public record.

It’s a weird week. Just a few days ago I was gearing to write on her wearing a revealing dress in the cold with no coat. Before that it was the rumor she’d be retiring from acting for a year to focus on activism, which turned to be a chunk of a quote that got away from everybody.

So heavy week.

There is this BuzzFeed quiz to lighten things up a bit, in honor of next week’s opening of “Red Sparrow”: Try To Make It Through A Day As A Secret Agent.

I did not make it through. Three attempts. First try, I ended up tortured. Second attempt, I was outed as a spy. Third time, more torture. My spy instincts are all wrong, least ways were I called upon to use seduction and wiles. Better for all the fate of global security isn’t dependent upon that.

See you next week.

Kyle Ware is a Louisville-based actor, artist, educator and writer. His column, In Other News, appears at Insider Louisville every Friday.


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