Brian asks about Donovan in the comments section of the previous post. It kills me that Billy D is leaving UF. I really don’t get the allure of the NBA. I’d trade prestige any day for a solid gig where you like the folks you work with, make a good living, and feel comfortable (which returns me to conversations I had months ago with now former colleagues who didn’t get it when I made the same remark about staying at an R1 school….though we are happy to move to another R1, it is not because it is an R1, it is because of the criteria I just put on the table). And when your salary is $3 million or $5 million a year, it’s in the millions. Your income is set. Is the NBA worth leaving behind the good gig?
Still, the NBA calls, and college coaches head out. Few make it. Larry Brown is the notable exception; today’s college ranks are full of those who didn’t and eventually returned to lesser college jobs. Prestige makes up its own allegiances (financial, but also regarding what is a “good” place or “good” job), and few of those types of allegiances are worth much. And even more still is the bigger question: why does it upset me that he’s leaving Florida? Why are my ties to UF so strong when it comes to sports? Allegiances are tricky things. I have stronger feelings for Donovan leaving the Gators than the UF English Department’s collapse.
Which brings me to Michael BÃ©rubÃ©’s recent post at Crooked Timber (Why was I reading Crooked Timber?). BÃ©rubÃ© narrates a tale familiar to academics (and academic couples, which, we, too, are): parents who don’t understand what we do for a living or why reading and writing are indicative of work. Other versions of this story include parents questioning our two/three days a week at the office schedule, or our two course a semester load. I too, recognize the story. While it is no doubt true (and it is true for me, too), I find it inconsequential. Unlike many others who I’ve heard tell this story, it doesn’t cause me any difficulty if my parents understand what I do or how I do it (Do I understand my father’s career in financial planning and insurance, for instance? Nope. So what?). My desire or allegiance to work (reading and writing) reflects a specific career choice that requires no explanation other than I want to do this; I have stronger feelings for it than anything else I’ve done. If family members understand that (and, actually, despite asides that seem to suggest I don’t work hard, these folks know I do), great. If not, great as well. I have other allegiances. Billy Donovan leaving the Gators upsets me more.
What I think I want(ed) to get at here before the Pistons game started (Oops! It’s started), is this overall allegiance issue: my allegiance to a college team (we fight over which onesie the baby should wear: Gators or Longhorns); my allegiance to a good job whatever the school’s title or ranking; my allegiance to my own family self-image, not the one parents might construct, or popular academic discourse about parents might try to construct for me.