Dear Grinnell: You Are Bullshit and Your Basketball Team Sucks, Love, Gawker Media

Well folks, it’s about to get a little personal here on the ol’ MA101 blog, as the festering pus sac of tabloid journalism that is Gawker Media has decided to take some pot shots at Your Unreliable Narrator’s beloved alma mater:

Jack Taylor, of the Grinnell College Pioneers, scored 138 points in a game last night, against Faith Baptist Bible College. It’s a mindblowing number, shattering the old NCAA mark of 113, and it’s being trumpeted as one of sports’ all-time individual achievements. It is not. It is bullshit. It is just the latest incarnation of Grinnell’s decades-old strategy of seeking media attention for records achieved through a complete bastardization of basketball.

(If you’re not familiar with the story, the numbers are roughly as related by the Deadspin article, plus a few they left out: Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor scored 138 points in a single D-III basketball game, going 52-of-108 from the field, 27-of-71 on three-pointers, and 7-of-10 on free throws. This broke the previous D-III record of 89 points in a single game, also set by a Grinnell player last year, which Deadspin apparently didn’t bother to look up or didn’t find worth mentioning.)

Deadspin‘s Barry Petchesky goes on to accuse Grinnell coach David Arseneault of “focus[ing] less on putting together a successful team and more on getting his players’ names in the record books,” which conveniently ignores the last decade or so of Grinnell basketball: eight winning seasons out of the last ten, with three championship appearances, and a slew of personal and team records, most of them derived directly from the “System” that Petchesky hates so much.

But we already knew Petchesky was an intellectual illiterate by the time he got to this argument:

Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points were also achieved through a concerted effort to get him the ball, but at least it came against NBA competition. Grinnell may as well have been playing against five random guys thrown together at the Y. Faith Baptist Bible College is a school of 330 students, and isn’t even in the NCAA. They’re not even NAIA. They play in the National Christian College Athletic Association, and Division II of the NCCAA at that.

Chamberlain’s famous game, for the record, was played against the New York Knicks, who went 29-51 that season to finish a solid 12 games behind the next-worst team in their division.

There’s no question that Grinnell College took advantage of an easy opponent to let one player run up a record-breaking score. But they did it by the rules, and — more importantly to my mind — they did it within the same system Grinnell has used for decades now. You may not like the run-and-gun approach, but it’s not like they changed the game plan up for one evening just to let a star player rack up points. Grinnell played Grinnell’s way, and they set a record doing it.

You’d almost have to wonder what in that story is cause for such pants-shitting and monocle-popping, and then you remember that it’s a Gawker Media blog. Take a crap all over an otherwise-celebrated record, set yourself apart from the other people covering it, and watch the traffic roll on in…it’s almost like you’re using a specific system to drive your numbers up at the expense of a more conventional opponent, isn’t it?

Funny how that works. For Grinnell basketball and tabloid journalism alike.

 

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