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FW: Sport and Society 8/31/11

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  • David P. Dillard
    . . Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 15:15:13 -0400 From: richard crepeau Subject: FW: Sport and Society 8/31/11 . . SPORT AND SOCIETY FOR ARETE .
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2011
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      Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 15:15:13 -0400
      From: richard crepeau <crepeau1@...>
      Subject: FW: Sport and Society 8/31/11

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      SPORT AND SOCIETY FOR ARETE

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      August 31, 2011

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      Staged events are seldom convincing and often offensive. About two weeks
      ago the President of THE Ohio State University, Gordon Gee decided to
      stage a public apology for his comments several weeks earlier in which he
      used the Little Sisters of the Poor as a punch line for criticism of
      scheduling by lesser football teams than his group of tainted national
      champions.

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      So Gee with press in tow went off to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor.
      His “apology” included a claim that he had made the Sisters famous. I
      would guess that the Sisters were as surprised as I was, to hear this. I
      have known about the Little Sisters of the poor since my childhood which
      was more than a few decades ago. The fact that I am a Catholic may help to
      explain that, although I suspect they have been well known beyond the
      Catholic community for a long time, likely even longer than Gordon Gee has
      been putting his foot in his mouth.

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      Having added this bit of false bravado to his own list of gaffs, and after
      Sister Cecilia Mary Satorius gave him a hug and whispered in his ear, Gee
      then announced to the gathered assembly that the Sisters had forgiven him.
      He then signed autographs, shook hands with those in wheelchairs, and
      performed other acts of mercy worthy of a fifth rate politician.

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      University presidents are often not the most graceful of public figures,
      but Gee, even by his own low standards, has performed well below public
      expectations for a highly educated public figure and alleged leader in
      higher education. Perhaps THE Ohio State University should consider giving
      Gee his outright release for the second time in his dubious public career.

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      All of this provides an appropriate preface to the beginning of the
      College Football season. It is a time of hope and optimism and
      considerable bragging about the prospects for the “home team.” At this
      point in the season no one has lost a game. Preseason polls, the national
      football magazines, the television pundits, and anyone with a football
      pulse has been “analyzing” the upcoming season and proclaiming their
      choice for “Number One.” There may be no other venue in which
      “numberoneism” is so universally practiced as in the rarified atmosphere
      of college football.

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      As we await the first kickoff, the press should be concentrating on the
      games ahead and the stars should be preparing for the first action on the
      gridiron. Instead we have the now all too familiar scenario playing itself
      out. Players are facing suspensions and dismissal from their teams for a
      variety of the usual reason.

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      The first big game of the season between LSU and Oregon will no longer be
      the first great test between two of the nation’s powerhouse preseason top
      ten teams. LSU players are facing criminal charges resulting from a
      barroom brawl, while one of Oregon’s star defensive players has been
      suspended after being arrested for driving a rental car with a suspended
      license at 118 mph. Both teams are also under NCAA investigation for
      questionable recruiting practices. This may take a bit of the luster off
      the big opener in the Jerry Dome in Texas.

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      In South Florida the University of Miami has even bigger problems as they
      temporarily suspended a number of players, which may be as many as
      fifteen, from the football team. This follows revelations by former
      Hurricane Booster and Ponzi scheme veteran, Nevin Shapiro, that he
      provided benefits to 72 former and current athletes at Miami. The
      suspended players learned from the NCAA today that although all will play
      again, eight will miss at least one game and must pay restitution for the
      gifts they took from Shapiro. Two others will receive longer suspensions.
       Some will compare these NCAA suspensions to last year’s bowl game passes
      for players from Alabama and THE Ohio State University. One can argue that
      the situations and details were different, and certainly to expect
      consistency from the NCAA is not something likely to be seen in this
      millennium.

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      Several other programs are under scrutiny for NCAA violations and will
      take whatever that burden might be into the new season. Whatever
      ultimately happens at Miami, LSU, and Oregon, or at some other version of
      Enormous State University, once again this year the college football will
      open under a cloud.

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      Although many of us who are inside these institutions of higher learning
      are dismayed by these continuing issues, it is clear that the NCAA will be
      unable to change the course of over a hundred years of intercollegiate
      athletic corruption. When some speculated that Miami might face the “death
      penalty” for its violation, or that they might be banned from television
      appearances, a former chairman of the NCAA Committee on infractions was
      quoted as saying that this will not happen. Why, because the death penalty
      “destroys a program,” and because a television ban would not only punish
      the offending institution, but their conferences and their member
      institutions. The power of the conferences is such that they will prevent
      these more severe penalties, and the television networks too will do what
      they can to keep all teams and their stars on the field and on the tube.

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      So the NCAA will continue to issue the lesser penalties that although
      inconvenient for football programs, will have no major impact on the
      overall corruption of the system. Individual schools will suspend players
      and sometimes fire coaches or athletic directors, and university
      presidents will continue to call for reform.

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      In the end little will change, because in the end there are few outside
      the academic community, and indeed few inside the academic community, who
      really care about institutional integrity. It’s about the money and the
      fame. College football is firmly embedded in the entertainment business,
      and no longer a part of the educational process.

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      As for the public, their only concern is wins and losses on the field and
      who turns out to be number one.

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      On Sport and Society this is Dick Crepeau reminding you that you don’t
      have to be a good sport to be a bad loser.

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      Copyright 2011 by Richard C. Crepeau


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