Basketball Bacchanalia

Lexington Herald-Leader sportswriter Jerry Tipton (18 October) was underwhelmed (lacked the pizzazz of yesteryears) by this year's annual Midnight Madness event the night before. The “madness” event is also celebrated on a number university campuses, is covered by TV, and involves making icons of basketball players. This effort, like the ones preceding it each year, trivialized the sport and sorta made monkeys out of those who perpetrated and attended it. Assuming the final okay for this coronation of campus royalty came from University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, one wonders if he needs to step up to the next level of maturity.

The UK affair cost $300,000, roughly equivalent to a year's tuition and fees for 31 actual students. The basketball players are predominantly part of the minor leagues for the NBA and expect to be gone after one year of non-study unless they aren't judged high draft-picks as freshmen, in which case they stay for a second year of non-study. Their career as UK players, as often noted by Coach Calipari, is a one-shot stab at greatness, thus not an academic endeavor.

The big draw this year was a rapper (more accurately, “gangsta-rapper”) called Drake. According to Tipton, the big disappointment was that Drake didn't rap. Strangely, Rap is usually described as music. It's actually a recitation set to an accompaniment of percussion instruments, mostly drums, that might resemble a dance with grunts, groans and screams in deepest Africa engaged in just before some sort of tribal bloodletting or par-boiling a missionary.

Drake couldn't do his act in the Madness venue, even though the young people there were familiar with his lyrics/performances and were misled into believing he would regurgitate his thing. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been the main-liner. A look at some of his stuff is instructive for sound, fury and “poetry.” Drake's buzz-words are fuckin', nigga, bitch and shit. His masterpiece called “The Catch Up” features two “fuckin' niggas” caught up in a—you guessed it—gun-fight...something not unusual in Lexington these days?

In his classic called “The Motto,” he raps about the fuckin' man, the bitch, the real nigga and shit. This is his phrase in Motto: “almost drowned in her pussy so I swam to her butt.” Another: “I tongue-kiss her other tongue.” Get it? In his classic tune “Light Up,” he uses the term “mother-fucker.” This usage is as sacred to gangsta-rap as Christ's mother Mary is to Christianity. Here's a line: “Wait until the sun goes down and we gon' make this bitch light up.” His conclusion: “fuck niggas, bitches, too, all I got is money, this'll do.”

Contextually, one has to remember that the women's basketball team and women cheerleaders are part of Midnight Madness. In Drake's parlance the “ho” is mentioned, rap-term for whore, and these UK women were exposed to Drake, who sees them not as human beings but objects to use, abuse, discard. Was Drake's background even cursorily examined by Barnhart, Calipari, and—oh yes—Matthew Mitchell, the women's coach?

Mitchell added to the denigration of women by cavorting and aping somebody called Bruno Mars. I don't know what he performed but in Mars' classic “When I Was Your Man,” the singer lamented longingly about the fact that his shack-up partner (ho) is gone. In Mars' number “Locked Out of Heaven” (another masterpiece?), is this line: “Your sex takes me to paradise.” Hopefully, Mitchell didn't writhe that one.

Mars collaborated on this artistry called “Bubble Butt.” His line was one of the mildest: “Turn around, stick it out, show the world you got...”. From Mars' “Like Tonight,” this gem: “You've got your lips along my body And I'm not gonna stop you...”. What was Matthew thinking? He wasn't, obviously!

Yeah...Midnight Madness this year was Basketball Bacchanalia since it mainlined orgy as normal and should have been doubly offensive to the men's and women's teams since about the only players who spend many minutes in at least a men's game are African-American. Drake is black and Mars is Puerto Rican/filipino. The lurid background for this stuff (men sex/rape-crazy and women as chattel) insulted all the players. Spectators who think this was worth their time got what they deserved—TRIPE—in the presence of campus royalty, of course.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark