Thursday, November 10, 2011

 

"The Shame Of College Sports"

Say it ain't so, Joe.

The winningest coach in college football history is out, following the exposure of what amounted to a 13-year institutional cover-up at Penn State of alleged serial pedophile, defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. (Gory grand jury details can be read here. And FAIR WARNING: This is truly ugly stuff.) So, students end up rioting in Happy Valley because of Paterno's instant dismissal. Really, kids? You planning on purchasing "Rioters 4 Pederasts"?

And, oh yeah, the whole thing could end up even worse. How, well, there's a former district attorney -- who didn't prosecute Sanduskey when allegations were first raised in 1998; a few years later, he  disappeared and had his laptop hard drive destroyed. Odd coincidence or, God help us, a suggestion that this cover-up might even go there?

The title of this post was borrowed from a recent cover article in The Atlantic magazine, written by Pulitzer-prize winning historian Taylor Branch. He, of course, is famous for his trilogy of books looking at the civil rights era.

Branch's article focuses more on the NCAA's role in big-time college athletics, the impact of television contracts and raises the question of whether student athletes should get more compensation for their on-field exploits.

But it is germane to the current Penn State saga because it zeroes in on how huge and, arguably, corrupt an industry college sports has become -- and football in particular (not gainsaying the NCAA billion-dollar "March Madness" contract). It so huge that it is understandable why a giant football program like Penn State would engage in a 14-year coverup of heinous crimes committed by a member of its football staff.

How times have changed. Just two years ago, the debate going on was whether Paterno's closest rival in victories -- Bobby Bowden -- should have 12 wins vacated because of a cheating scandal. If that were to happen, Bowden would have had no chance to retire with the victory prize. As it happened, Bowden was forced out -- because the team started underperfoming on the field (those wins were vacated) and the point became moot.

This story, however, is on a whole other level. It's not about recruitment violations or kids getting cars from boosters or trading game shirts for tattoos. This is about at least nine young boys being abused -- raped -- by a defensive coordinator of the football team. And it seems clear that people at the top knew -- not in 2002 when graduate assistant Mike McQueary walked in on by-then-former coach Sandusky raping a kid in the showers -- but in 1998. That was when, it appears, Sandusky was forced out of his job -- but still allowed access to the college's athletic facilities!

As others have noted, the much-ballyhooed Big Ten Network -- bringing in millions in revenue and giving the conference even more pull with the NCAA -- has avoided this story like the plague. That's the problem with today's college athletics: The institutions want the money, influence and the benefits that come with a large  athletics department -- a volatile brew that is sowing chaos and multiple conference hopping (ya thought, Boise, Idaho, was out west? Ha! Turns out it's in -- or will be -- the Big East!) But what about the responsibility? That's something quite different.

As Branch shows, the institutions have no qualms taking advantage of young student athletes (a phrase, Branch notes, created to help indemnify schools against worker's compensation claims brought by injured players). Now, it seems, that same CYA mentality seemingly extends even to not caring about the lives of really young people who not only aren't athletes -- but are actual pre-adolescent victims of a sexual predator who was allowed to use his current and former workplace as his own "playing field" (or, dare I say it, "happy valley").

Shame indeed.

***UPDATED AND EDITED SINCE INITIAL POSTING

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

 

RAG on Red Eye

Your humble bloghost made his return to Fox News Channel's overnight sensation, "Red Eye" on Friday night (Saturday morning). The following clip is the opener and first segment. Surprise, surprise! Herman Cain continued to be a topic of major media interest:




Here is Andy Levy's hilarious "halftime show".




And be sure to catch yours truly geeking out at the very end.

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