Extra Practice Time Allows Duke a Leisurely Trip to NYC

Posted by Lathan Wells on October 16th, 2013

With the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s college basketball season rapidly approaching, coaches are all striving to find ways to bond and unite their teams. This season, the NCAA was kind enough to grant college teams an extra few weeks of practice time, allowing for preseason workout regimens to begin in late September and allowing for players and coaches to become better acquainted with one another earlier than in years past. With the ACC now expanding its ranks to include Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh, all coaches are looking to use that time to gain a leg up.

Duke Players at NYC's Historic Rucker Park Courts (credit: GoDuke.com)

Duke Players at NYC’s Historic Rucker Park Courts (credit: GoDuke.com)

That competitive edge is not always gained strictly through practice and weightlifting sessions. Often, it’s the extra time spent hanging out together that helps a team gel, whether through playing video games in the hotel or extra face time with the coach. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, always one looking for ways to bring his team together as a unit, used the opportunity this preseason to take his Blue Devils on a Columbus Day weekend trip called “Duke Elevate” to New York City.  According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, among other things, the team visited the Apollo Theatre, the 9/11 Memorial, Broadway, West Point, and the Museum of Modern Art. While a cynic might say Coach K is trying to impress culture on young men who just want to refine their games on the hardwood in hopes of making it to the next level, a realist might argue that it’s these times away from the gym, yet still together as a team, that often forge the best collective units. The NCAA disallowed international travel in the month of October this year, but traveling to see some of our country’s most impressive sights in the Big Apple is a pretty good Plan B.

The interesting take on trips like these, and their international equivalents in which teams often scrimmage some of the best in the world outside of our nation’s borders, is that it brings back to the forefront the idea of the college athlete and whether they are properly compensated. Just last week, Coach K was quoted as saying that the idea of amateurism needed to change, and he communicated as much in a private meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert. Most are in favor of finding some way to compensate the young men who help bring piles of cash into the coffers of their respective athletic departments and universities. However, those who oppose the idea of paying college athletes often cite trips just like this one, in which these especially gifted student-athletes receive a trip that not every “average” college student is afforded free of charge.

Both opinions are very much in play when it comes to a story like this one.  Should the players receive a paycheck based on their production and its subsequent effect on the money garnered by their school during the athletic season, or can one point to opportunities like this (not to mention the scholarship and free room and board thing) as reason enough that the athletes’ amateurism should be preserved in its current state?

Duke’s team is always one of the nation’s most talented and most well-coached.  They are always a national contender, so tying together this year’s team’s success and cohesion as the season goes on to a lovely trip to New York in mid-October would likely prove hard to quantify. But for those who continue to delve into all sides of the amateurism discussion, perhaps a basketball squad enjoying a team-building trip to New York while other college students are simply happy to be given a Monday off could be more closely examined.  For discussion’s sake, of course.

Lathan Wells (77 Posts)

A 30-year old unabashed college basketball fan, I currently reside in Richmond, Virginia. I especially enjoy following the ACC and the local teams, VCU and the University of Richmond. I hope to continue my journalistic pursuits in the sports arena full-time in the future, but in the meantime I am really enjoying covering the greatest sport there is for RTC. Follow me on Twitter @prohibitivefav.

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