In more than 20 years I’ve spent studying the issue, I have yet to hear a convincing argument that college football has anything do with what is presumably the primary purpose of higher education: academics.
That’s because college football has no academic purpose. Which is why it needs to be banned. A radical solution, yes. But necessary in today’s times.
Football only provides the thickest layer of distraction in an atmosphere in which colleges and universities these days are all about distraction, nursing an obsession with the social well-being of students as opposed to the obsession that they are there for the vital and single purpose of learning as much as they can to compete in the brutal realities of the global economy.
Who truly benefits from college football? Alumni who absurdly judge the quality of their alma mater based on the quality of the football team. Coaches such as Nick Saban of the University of Alabama and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma University who make obscene millions. The players themselves don’t benefit, exploited by a system in which they don’t receive a dime of compensation. The average student doesn’t benefit, particularly when football programs remain sacrosanct while tuition costs show no signs of abating as many governors are slashing budgets to the bone.
Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified in court yesterday, during a preliminary hearing in the case against two Penn State officials charged with perjury and failing to report what McQueary told Paterno about what he saw Jerry Sandusky doing in Penn State athletic facilities.
Here is the heart of his testimony:
I described it was extremely sexual and that some kind of intercourse was going on. There’s no question in my mind that I conveyed to them that I saw Jerry in the showers, and that it was severe sexual acts, and that it was wrong and over the line.
And when McQueary told Paterno, what did Paterno say, according to McQueary’s testimony?
He said: ‘Well, I’m sorry you had to see that. It’s terrible. I need to think and tell some people about what you saw, and I’ll let you know what we’ll do next.’
So, Paterno was sorry that McQueary “had to see” it, but expressed no alarm or care for victim of the crime. This pretty much shows where Paterno’s sense of duty was directed: save the team and the hell with anything else.
(Note: we need to stop the daintiness and describe the alleged offenses for what they truly are in the vernacular to somehow try to capture the monstrousness. Not anal intercourse or oral sex, which sounds clinical, but butt-f–king and blowjobs and cock-grabbing and pants-groping and other assorted acts that the 67-year-old Sandusky allegedly inflicted on eight minor victims over a 15-year span, according to the 23-page grand-jury report, and resulted in 40 counts of serial sex abuse of minors.)
I think the answer to the question of inaction is simple. It wasn’t a matter of university officials and football staffers in Happy Valley not wanting to deal with it (which they didn’t), or not following up (which they didn’t), or having better things to do like attending Friday-night football pep rallies. There is no great conspiracy theory at work.
What happened, or more accurately did not happen, goes to the core of evil that major college sports programs in this country have become, equivalent to Mafia families in which the code of omertà rules and coaches and staff always close ranks around their own, even if it means letting someone who was first accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in 1998 continue to roam.
- Storm clouds above Penn State’s football team not clearing yet (aol.sportingnews.com)
- Families say Sandusky had free rein (philly.com)
- Joe Paterno, Arrogant to the End (thedailybeast.com)
Nebraska’s Athletic Director has advised its fans not to wear red tomorrow at the game with Penn State for fear of their safety.
Tom Osborne, Nebraska’s athletic director, has asked his team’s usually decked-out fans to refrain from wearing Nebraska’s trademark red. Osborne said he was not worried about the football team’s safety, but he wanted to make sure the team’s fans stayed safe.
“I just don’t know if it’s a good idea in this circumstance to stand out,” Osborne said to The Associated Press on Thursday.
Generally speaking, it is easy for a scandal like this to become overblown and hysterical, identifying abusers everywhere and this argues in favor of restraint and care in evaluating exactly what happened and what is a false claim. In this case, however, we have an eyewitness to at least one abuse incident who was 28 years old at the time he saw the abuse first-hand, and at least 8 victims (now adults, not children) testifying. The compaining individual in the Texas event was not one of the 8 in the original indictment.
- Nebraska asks fans not to wear red to Penn St. (espn.go.com)
- Neb regent fears for player, fan safety at PSU (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Nebraska Cornhusker fans worry about security at Penn State after Joe Paterno firing (pennlive.com)
- Penn State Scandal: PSU Students Must Not Make Things Worse at Nebraska Game (bleacherreport.com)
Given the outrageous failure to alert police to child sexual abuse occurring on the Penn State campus, will the NCAA launch an investigation into the football program? The inaction by Penn State officials would seem to be highly damaging to college football’s reputation.