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Golub: Why do colleges have sports?

The existence of college sports is confusing. Despite holding the student-athlete moniker, college athletes are often treated like professionals. This past weekend, you maybe watched the Final Four for men’s basketball. It was a professional-level spectacle complete with NBA commentators and played at US Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The NFL, by the way, happens to be the highest grossing sports league in the United States. The second highest? College football. This statistic speaks to our country’s disregard for players’ health in the face of gigantic profits, sure, but it also shows how commodified college sports is.

Shi: John Updike and the mechanics of rebirth

“Immortality is nontransferable.” John Updike wrote these words in 1960 to commemorate Ted Williams’ last game, and true to form, nearly 60 years later Boston still mourns its irreplaceable loss. Itself immortal, Updike’s “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” is probably the single greatest piece of sports literature ever written, and similarly to the Fenway faithful, we at the sports desk are forever looking up at it.

Beyda: New college football playoff system may be misguided

The college sports powers-that-be have spoken, and they have decided that a single Final Four in late March and early April just isn’t enough. That’s why they’re adding another one in the first week of January. After the commissioners of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences (and separatist Notre Dame’s athletics director) met last week to decide what will become of the BCS, they finally determined to install a four-team playoff in college football. It’s unclear if the current BCS ranking system will be used to select the top four teams, but by 2014, we’re going to have a playoff, whether you like it or not.