Friday Mud reflects on college sports

November 11, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Friday Mud reflects on college sports

What took place at Penn State – where a heinous crime and series of incidents were overlooked in order to protect the storied tradition of the football team – isn’t all that different from what happens at major universities across the country where kids are given money, cars, airline tickets, preferred housing and – I’m guessing here – arrangements for other things of a more personal nature that we probably can only imagine…like cheerleaders and pretty girls who are disguised as “teaching assistants” or tutors.

It’s all done in order to have the best football team.  Or the best basketball team.  Or the best baseball team.  In order to get the best players, you have to create the best deal.  In order to keep the program buzzing along at Mach-12 speed, you occasionally have to do something as unimaginable as ignoring a child predator hanging out on your college campus.  You just can’t call attention to the old assistant coach fondling a young boy in the shower — that might cost you good players.  And not getting those good players might cost you wins.  And, well, we just can’t have that.

It doesn’t matter that the cheating is wrong.  It doesn’t matter that those kids are given money under the table that is untaxed and, therefore, nothing short of criminal activity.  It doesn’t matter that student-students (as opposed to that sometimes laughable term: “student-athletes”) who are working hard at the school to get their degree are sharing the same class as an athlete who couldn’t care less about the next assignment, the next test or the grade for the class.

None of it matters.  The only thing that matters is protecting the brand and the team and the winning.

And it’s ruining college sports.

At least it is to me.

These programs have sunk to the lowest of lows, allowing this sort of scandalous behavior on their watch, all the while acting as if they don’t know where the point guard or the starting wide receiver got that 2011 Acura with the tinted windows and the killer stereo.  Sure, the school didn’t actually hand the kid the keys.  Some other creep did, a booster or corporate supporter most likely, and we all know if the s**t ever hit the fan that guy (or female) would NEVER face punishment or scrutiny because the program needs him for the next point guard or starting wide receiver who comes along.

And the hits just keep on coming…more players are recruited, more dirty deals are done and more class hours are neglected, all in the name of getting ready for the next big game against “We’re Cheating With U”.  And lo and behold, some team goes 11-0 and then cries about not being allowed to play in the BCS Championship game.  Isn’t that the irony of it all?  The school cries about being cheated out of a big payday, when all they’ve done from the time practice started in August is circumvented the rules in an effort to win.

The horrific story at Penn State was the cover-up of all cover-ups, where a sick, mentally unstable man was allowed to freely utilize the facilities while gobs of people either knew directly or had great suspicions that he was up to no good.  But none of that could get in the way of football.

Football at Penn State became more important than the university itself.  Ask yourself this question:  Had the Board of Trustees at Penn State terminated a 46-year tenured economics professor because they discovered he had been involved in a cover-up involving child abuse on campus, would 1,000 students have protested on the night the news broke of his dismissal?

And while we’re dishing out blame, it’s fair to slice off a piece for the other group of folks who have become the great enablers:  Us.  The fans.  The ticket buyers.  The TV watchers.  The sweatshirt buyers.  As long as we keep paying for tickets and cheering and sending $500 checks every year, the monster’s belly continues to fill and things like the Jerry Sandusky story are more apt to be swept under the rug since, of course, the football team “just can’t let down its wonderful fan base.”

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10 Comments For This Post

  1. vreedy76 Says:

    Well said Drew. I have an uncle who passed away a few years ago that worshiped PSU and Joe Paterno. He’s probably turning over in his grave right now.

    With JoePa’s integrity in question now, what does that say about the rest of them, the ones we know are dirty? Not that they all are covering up slime like Sandusky, but they all cover up something. Hopefully some good comes of this and the microscope is put on college athletics. My thoughts and prayers go out to the ones who were taken advantage of and I hope justice is served to all involved.

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Wait till they find out the missing DA (now declared dead) who originally investigated this case and somehow decided NOT to go to court, was paid off and then murdered when he decided to come clean with it. Just my opinion.

  3. Oriole85 Says:

    Drew,
    Well very well written article and even if I don’t like to admit you are right on many things you stated. College sports is a big business no doubt, but the public is largely guilty of letting that happen myself included. College Gameday is one of the best shows IMO. But I think we can all agree what happened at PSU isn’t common or atleast I hope not, way different than the victimless crimes of pay-for-play.

    One correction, FedEx Field where the game between Maryland and Notre Dame is taking place is Landover, MD not DC.

  4. Erich Hawbaker Says:

    I’ve been depressed for a week now over the Penn State scandal. But I don’t think that Joe Paterno is one of these guys you describe who “runs the school” and thinks that the rules are different for him. He was there long before that culture existed, and it grew in around him in my opinion. I simply cannot believe that he would knowingly participate in covering up child molestation. And it also really scares me how easily the media was able to put all the focus on him instead on the guy who was actually doing the molesting. I’m penning a post of my own on the subject, now that Barstool works again I should have it up soon.

  5. matt Says:

    amen

  6. Marty Mossa Says:

    I’m still shaking my head Drew. I can’t beleive it. Although not much of a college football fan, I always admired Joe Paterno and the Penn State Football Program. I remember cheering them on when they beat Miami in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Title in 1987. But when you put your own interests before young innocent boys; well I have no use for him. For me child molesters should be treated like stray dogs, throw them in large cage for life, lock it, and throw the key away.

  7. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Speaks volumes about this country’s moral compass. The more details that surface in the Penn State scandal, the more apparent it becomes that the school and it’s hierarchy placed greater emphasis on protecting their reputation than the welfare of innocent children! Doesn’t get more heinous than that! The school’s football program deserves to be shut down immediately as many on the current coaching staff were probably aware of the coverup. Additionally, the program should be suspended indefintely. How dare those individuals place their interests above innocent children! What’s truly sad is that no amount of punishment will in any way compensate for the victims’ suffering……

  8. matt Says:

    WHOA WHOA WHOA, marty mossa. stray dogs are a product of neglectful humans. they deserve much better than child molesters and those who protect them.

  9. Tim Says:

    @Erich. If you haven’t already, read the grand jury report. The NUMBER of times that Sandusky was witnessed with young boys is staggering – showers, gyms, wrestling rooms, locker rooms, games, practices, coaches meetings, bowl games, pre-game hotel rooms – I lost count. Simply put – this guy seemed to ALWAYS have young boys around him. Lots of people knew this and failed to ask, apparently, “what’s wrong with this picture”?. JoePa is simply the most visible / powerful man (no, he’s not a god) to drop the moral ball. He ran State College, if not the entire state.

  10. tsnamm Says:

    @Eric, I disagree, Paterno DEFINITELY ran Penn State, the usual chain of command at most universities is head coach, AD, University President. At Penn State it was exactly backward ending at Paterno’s doorstep. Penn State put Paterno’s legacy, the football team, and winning above everything, including child molestation. Rumor has it that Sandusky was using his child “charity” to pimp out kids to rich donors as well….if so it’s even more heinous. Lets be honest Drew, college athletics is nothing more than a minor league for the NFL and NBA. If this kind of corruption is as prevalent as you insinuate, then a new system needs to be instituted. But I doubt it will ever happen.

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