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Friday Food for Thought: Possessing wins

The NCAA has been known to take away wins, but are wins a form of property that they can actually take away?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Texas A&M vs Providence Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Friday Food For Thought, the weekend conversation starter. Each week, this article presents a topic for debate. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the weekend game table, the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.

On Wednesday, five former basketball players from the University of Louisville filed suit against the NCAA for reinstatement of the 2013 National Championship, Luke Hancock’s 2013 Most Outstanding Player Award, and numerous other individual awards. The full complaint can be found here.

Count VI of the complaint is a Trespass to Chattels claim, which is essentially an allegation that the NCAA physically interfered with the plaintiffs’ property. Here is the interesting part; the complaint alleges that “The property that Plaintiffs possessed were wins, championships and individual awards . . .” Putting aside the trophies, rings, plaques or other tangible awards that were won, can the wins and the championship itself be considered property? Is there any real monetary value that is associated with a win? This is a great topic for debate so let’s get to it.

Side Note: I am also very intrigued by the argument in the complaint that the NCAA can not strip Hancock of the MOP award unless it specifically found that he took impermissible benefits (as opposed to the program in general). Assuming that the wins are vacated, this would mean that Hancock would retain the MOP award for a tournament that his team never officially participated in. Perhaps an argument for another day.

1. Point

There is a lot value in wins. Look at the difference in salaries, endorsements, and overall compensation for coaches with a tons of wins and coaches without. Certainly the victory total is not the sole means of evaluating the performance of a coach, but it is an important factor. Its the reason why replacing Roy Williams sometime in the very distant future with a losing record coach is such a foreign concept.

In reality, wins are simply a recorded outcome of an event. Many employees are valued for the totality of their outcomes. A college degree is the culmination of a series of events that results in a documented outcome. The only tangible results are a diploma and a transcript. The fact that you can’t sell your degree to someone else, however, does not eliminate the incredible monetary value that it provides to the owner. Take away the degree and suddenly the individual is less valuable in the workplace. The same is certainly true for coaches and potentially for players with respect to their career record.

If there is intrinsic value to having wins, then they are a form of property.

For some fans, this concept is crystallized when it comes to betting against one’s favorite team. This is more than just individual game betting, it also occurs when filling out a bracket and picking against the Heels. When the game is over, there is sorrow in the loss but a sense of relief that there was some monetary gain. That relief has a value. If winning a bet can offset the pain of not winning the game, then you have put a price on the win.

2. Counterpoint

Wins are valuable from an emotional perspective. Some wins, like those from championship games, provide a lifetime of enjoyment that few material items can match. They are, however, much like memories of one’s last vacation – they mean a lot to you but very little to anyone else.

Take Louisville’s March 31, 2013 Elite Eight game against Duke, which was a rematch from a Duke victory in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Cardinals prevailed with an impressive 22-point victory despite Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury. How much money would a Blue Devil fan pay for that victory? How much would a Carolina fan pay for the 2016 National Championship game victory? Of course, victories aren’t even awarded as a result of sanctions. They are only vacated and the losing team is still left with the loss (yes, technically, those games have a forfeit so only one team showed up – and it lost).

There are lots of things that have value to us individually but that are not property. No one can buy the love that I have for my family. The Redskins can not buy the championship from the Eagles. A coach cannot buy more wins from another coach to become more valuable. Some things just can’t be sold and therefore are not property.

Drink Pairing

In need of encouragement to debate – I was introduced last week to a mischievous concoction called Ole Smoky Salty Caramel Whiskey. Made in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, this 60 proof liquor has a great flavor to cut a boring night of beers or provide a little fun kick for a weekend party. No need to mix this stuff, just grab a couple of shot glasses and a couple of friends.

Can debate without assistance Its time to step up the game on the non-alcohol side. I like the quick espresso made from the French Roast K-cup on the 4 ounce setting. Use only a little raw sugar. Milk, cream, or regular sugar ruin an espresso. Do one or two of these little beauties and then start a debate that will last all night.