Episode 'South Park' Season 15, Episode 5: 'Crack Baby Athletic Association' Recap
Last night's "South Park" really struck a chord with me. Why? Because they tackled an issue that has always bothered me, yet never seemed to be talked about anywhere except in media outlets that sort of have to side with the ones in charge.
The episode started with Stan and Kyle enjoying an episode of Terrance and Phillip, when the "saddest commercial ever" comes on. The two have to avert their eyes as Sarah McLachlan ("Hello, I'm Sarah McLachlan and I was famous for two months) tells them about the suffering of crack babies. This is, of course, a reference to the ASPCA commercial asking people to adopt shelter pets, but taken up to a "South Park" level.
It gets Kyle to go volunteer, where he runs into Cartman, who is also spending time with the crack babies. Kyle is understandably suspicious, and finds out eventually that Cartman has started the Crack Baby Basketball Association, in which he has the crack babies fight over a ball filled with crack and videotapes it. Kyle is about to report it...until he finds out how much money they're making, and is treated to a fine meal ("Let me take you out to Denny's. It's Baconalia time").
Here's where it gets good: the whole thing is a satire on how the NCAA exploits its student athletes by trotting them out on a national stage, using their likeness to sell paraphernelia, and selling tickets and ad time during bowl games, and not paying the kids a single cent. Not only that, but student athletes are forbidden from taking any sponsorship offers or outside money of any kind.
It only gets better when EA Sports enters the equation, as they want to buy the rights to the CBAA. Kyle starts to have second thoughts, but only too late: EA screws them all over by taking what they've made and owning the rights for themselves. The boys get kicked out "with that old EA Sports saying...'Get the f*** out of my building!'"
It's a great topic for sports fans to watch, as it's something we've all ranted about at some point. But even if you're just a "South Park" fan, this is still a fun episode as you watch Kyle slowly become like Cartman, and have to reason through it to his conscience for the episode, Stan.
There's a whole mess with Slash (of Guns n' Roses) being like Santa Claus, but that's all a bit of a Deus Ex Machina to get us out of the episode. The real focus here--and I think "South Park" is absolutely right--is that NCAA athletes are essentially slaves. They work their butts off, risk injury, spend hours in practice when they could be studying, and they get nothing out of it. Many of them could, as they used to be able to, go right into the draft. College gives them nothing, but earns millions for the schools and for companies like Nike and Adidas who make their gear.
So, thanks to "South Park." And to the Fab Five, and Reggie Bush, and any other athletes who were disgraced just for trying to earn a little money for their ridiculously hard work...we're with you on this one.
What they're trying to tell us: Slash isn't real, EA Sports sucks (amen!), the NCAA are slave owners, and Baconalia is delicious.