Smart Notes – Bill Simmons, football in 1938, Mark Cuban – 2/19/2011

Football has changed. The New Yorker (yes) writes about one of the handful of most famous football players of the day, in 1938, and this is what it had to say:

Bill Platt is just about what you’d expect the captain of a Yale football team to be — tall, heavy, blond, and offhand. We stopped by to see him in his rooms at Berkeley College, one of the newest of the Yale dormitories, a few nights before the Harvard game and thoughtlessly kept him up an hour past bedtime. Platt played his last game of football Saturday; next year he’ll have to start thinking about a career, which may be either politics, a tradition in his family, or law. He’s not in any hurry to decide. As an undergraduate, he spent his summers fishing in Maine; he said it seemed like no time at all each year before he was reporting to Ducky Pond again for fall practice. …

Once, Platt said as we got up to go, he’d decided idealistically that he needed something besides football as a character builder, and the spring he left Andover he shipped as deckhand on an American freighter to Shanghai and back. It was, he thought, the most interesting experience of his life. “Did it help your character?” we asked. “No,” he said.

How should you split your rent? First read the study, then check out the calculator.

Bill Simmons creating the Bill Simmons sports and literary site, and it actually sounds kind of great. Be sure to check out Quickish/Shanoff on this. (Very happy Klosterman is on board.) Even though this is bankrolled by ESPN, I look at this as similar to Freakonomics going off the NY Times website. For all the hoopla about HuffPo/AOL, etc, I think this is really the model: a multi-platform channel that focuses on web content but offers podcasts, books, ebooks, and other media “consumption,” with an actual editorial voice. Again, read Dan’s take on this, who probably thinks about this stuff more than anyone on planet earth (not a surprise given his Harvard MBA and years in the online media world.

Why is college so expensive? Here’s a dialogue from the Times with David Leonhardt; Matt Yglesias with an old post and a critique of the “Olive Garden Theory of Higher Education.”

Bob Sanders, released. Sad story, but (a) injuries are brutal and (b) in the NFL you must be ruthless.

Don’t worry, Bryant is on the case. Supposedly HBO’s real sports is investigating the Cam Newton drama.

I still don’t buy that Mark Cuban’s playoff idea will go anywhere, even if he did set up some kind of entity.

  • Richmond

    Another interesting perspective on why college is so expensive from former Senate candidate Peter Schiff:

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  • ST

    Why is college so expensive? Easy: ever increasing demand, highly constricted supply. Starting a new university is incredibly difficult and resource intensive. At the same time more and more people find it economically necessary to go to college. Pretty basic.

    @ Richmond

    That line of thought is limited at best. Placing all the blame for rising costs on government ignores the explosive demand for a college education in recent generations. It also ignores the fact that public universities heavily subsidize undergraduate education, especially for in state students, and the fact that private universities increasingly offer grants and scholarships to make attendance more attractive. Schiff cites Yale and its rising costs, but fails to mention that Yale now fully subsidizes every student who comes from a family with 60K or less in yearly income. All other students pay on a sliding scale, and the average Yale student graduates with with only about 10K in debt after getting their degree.

    The logic of his proposal fails the smell test. If we end all government subsidies for higher education, people will indeed turn to the free market. Loan terms and interest rates will be worse, and more students will face the choice of either agreeing to bad terms or forgoing college. We saw this with the housing market, and I have no doubt it would happen quickly in this area as well. Those whose families already bear most or all of the burden of college may pay a little less, but costs will not drop as substantially as he suggests.

    I also find it both idiotic and laughable that he would question the value of the GI bill. Its one of the best government programs in history and did indeed help to build up the middle class. My own grandfather went to school on the GI bill after serving his country. Something he never could have done as man with no family wealth whatsoever and a wife and 2 kids to support. He used the GI money to pay tuition at a state school (so in effect he was subsidized from both sides) and was able to launch a long and productive working life.