FW: Sport and Society 8/31/11
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 15:15:13 -0400
From: richard crepeau <crepeau1@...>
Subject: FW: Sport and Society 8/31/11
SPORT AND SOCIETY FOR ARETE
August 31, 2011
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
As for the public, their only concern is wins and losses on the field and
who turns out to be number one.
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.
Copyright 2011 by Richard C. Crepeau
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