The whole piece is so blatantly pro-NCAA, it could have been written by the organization's PR office. It actually promotes the fact that athletes now get unlimited snacks as a sign of progress. The phrase "media agitators who have propagated" has a distinctly USSR feel to it too, doesn't it? Also, when talking about previous potential walkouts, Davis uses the word "claims." That's a specific word meant to cast doubt on what's being reported.
Do I think there's going to be a walk-out at this weekend's Final Four? Probably not. Do I think it's possible? Maybe not.
But to cast it like Davis does, as completely out of the realm of possibility because there is no way the players would give up this once in a lifetime opportunity, is tone deaf. It's paternalistic - "how dare you give up this great chance WE are giving you?" It's ... yep ... exploitative.
One of the reasons I think a walkout would probably never happen doesn't come from players' gratitude at the system providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (which is how Davis casts it). It comes from The Sport Ethic. Remember, one of the core values of The Sport Ethic - those ideas that elite athletes have internalized as necessary to being successful - is that The Game comes before everything else. If athletes have internalized this idea their whole lives, it's no wonder they would balk at sitting out a championship game. No cause, not even one that would benefit them, can overcome that fundamental part of an elite athlete's worldview.
It's telling, too, who has reported on the previous potential walkouts. Who the "media agitators" are. Taylor Branch, a historian. Real Sports, an HBO production that specializes in investigative journalism. Joe Nocera, a business columnist.
These aren't college basketball beat writers. These are journalists who have no vested interest in maintaining the game as is. There have no sources that they want to curry favor with inside the NCAA.
As the characters in Hamilton remind us: "If there's a fire you're trying to douse, you can't put it out from inside the house."