In the wake of the horrific story at Penn State, I find it difficult today (I’m writing this on Thursday) to sit down at my computer and create Friday Mud.
Mind you, it’s nothing more than digging around for 10-12 pictures and stories that are mostly designed to make you all laugh and get your Friday off to a great start…it’s not the labor of a steelworker or anything, but the process requires energy and, above all, the spirit of laughter must be present in order to provide you with the best Friday Mud content I can.
I tried. I glazed over some photos for 20 minutes or so until it dawned on me my heart wasn’t in it today. I’m nearly certain that Friday Mud – in its original form – will return next week.
What happened in State College, PA is one of the most unthinkable acts and stories of my lifetime. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. As I said to Luke and Thyrl before leaving for the day on Thursday morning — “There are too many people who knew about this and said nothing…there’s more to it. Something ELSE was going on at Penn State, in addition to the despicable behavor of Jerry Sandusky. Lots of folks knew what was going on. More people than Sandusky were involved. And it’s not just about kids and sex. It’s about much more than that.” Those are all hunches on my part, but the story is far from over.
But what happened at Penn State is merely a pimple on the face of college sports today.
What happened at Penn State is happening EVERYWHERE across the country today. No, innocent little boys aren’t being violated at 50 major academic institutions across America. What happened at Penn State is symbolic of what’s happening everywhere in the country these days.
College sports has grown into a monster that is no longer enjoyable. College sports has ruined itself. College sports has, in fact, become bigger than college itself.
The high-powered, long-tenured football or basketball coach doesn’t just run the athletic department. He or she runs the school. They make more money than anyone else at the institution, a complete and utter joke in and of itself. They not only run the school, they run the town. They don’t get parking tickets. They don’t pay for coffee at the diner every morning. They live a life that isn’t reality — it’s fantasy-land. And that’s why they think the rules and the laws don’t pertain to them. Because, for the most part, they actually don’t.
Winning on Saturday or on Tuesday night or on Thursday afternoon has become much more important than the school providing a quality education to the great unwashed who are forking over an average of $40,000 per-year to attend a 4-year college.
College sports runs the college these days.
It’s a disgrace.
Not every college is to blame and without question there are plenty of wholesome virtues about college athletics that we can all soak in. Anyone who has listened or followed me over the last 9 years knows how fond I am of the local college scene. There’s a reason why I flew to Maine to watch Towson play a regular season football game last Saturday. There’s a reason why I hop on a bus and travel with the UMBC women’s basketball team to watch them play at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. There’s a reason why I (along with Glenn Clark) drive over to Hill Field House on a 20 degree night in January to watch Morgan State play basketball. I am fond of the people who run those athletic departments and their coaches. It’s Baltimore. Those schools – even though I didn’t attend any of them – are in my blood.
I’d go watch Towson play Villanova in football or UMBC play Vermont in basketball LONG before I’d drive down to Washington DC this Saturday night to watch Notre Dame and Maryland play football.
This much is the truth — there are plenty of Division I schools and athletic departments across the country who run their programs with the accountability that’s expected of them.
But there are schools who feel – as reflected in their actions – that the rules don’t pertain to them. Those schools have figured out the magic formula: Above all else…win. Forget education, forget right and wrong, forget fair play. Forget anything and everything that doesn’t help us win a game.