Culture Shock (Sewing)on November 21, 2011 at 8:17 am
College football is a dirty business. Each year the actual games being played take a backseat to whatever controversy has been forced to light by abhorrent oversights, or vacuous judgment. Whether it’s Pete Carroll caught up in disreputable recruiting violations that have cost his former school, USC, bowl eligibility and scholarships – while causing him to have to coach the Seattle Seahawks (I’m not sure which I think is worse.) Or Jim Tressel, looking the other way while his players exchanged Ohio State paraphernalia for what better have been the sweetest Goddamn tattoos ever drilled into a mistake-riddled extremity (and I know a little something about that. By the way, can anyone read Mandarin? I’d love to know what it says on my back.)
This, however, is the exclusive society that the NCAA and its participating schools have fostered for years.
College football programs have become bigger than the schools they represent. Because of the gigantic amount of loot this monstrous enterprise is pulling down, schools, the NCAA, fans, the players and especially the coaches are steeped in a culture based upon looking the other direction.
Winning is everything you need to do, not a thing you need to do.
Suffice it to say, there aren’t many schools out there selling the actual school anymore. Coaches take advantage of players by pushing the chance to be on television, or the chance to play on Sundays. They swindle the families by promising a father-figure, or a wholesome atmosphere, and then send the kid out for a night with a star player to get hammered, or laid, or both.
The players have learned to take advantage of their talents as well. Whether it’s a house for their parents (See: Bush, Reggie), or to generate a bidding war for their services (See: Newton, Cam), many have learned to benefit themselves with more than just a free education.
Does this happen everywhere, with every school? I’m sure it doesn’t. Well, I hope it doesn’t.
The problem is, we have no idea where it does and where it doesn’t. It reminds me a lot of the “Steroid Era” in baseball. You can assume that you know who took PED’s and who didn’t, but none of us will ever truly know. More importantly, we’ll never truly care either. Not unlike how we don’t care why Reggie Bush eventually found his way to USC, just that he got there in time to push Matt Leinart over the goal-line versus Notre Dame. We don’t mind that Cam Newton got paid to lead Auburn, either, just as long as he ultimately led the Tigers to a BCS Championship.
We have been willing to accept the unscrupulous behavior because the end result is games like the 2006 Rose Bowl (Boy, do I miss the good Vince Young — though he was a bit better last night).
The acceptance of the dishonorable culture cultivated by the NCAA is what makes the culture shock of the incidents at Penn State so silly. Certainly, the actions of the layer of film beneath a 24-day-old pile of vile-vermin vomit just under the pile of cow dung that is Jerry Sandusky, can be regarded as a shock. Anytime such abhorrent behavior is thrust into our line of sight, it’s natural to be appalled at a human being somehow capable of such nefarious thoughts, let alone one who actually acts upon them. However, to be shocked that any college football coach, geriatric or otherwise, would cover-up such a scandal is foolish.
I’ve had numerous conversations over the last couple of weeks with people on either side of what Penn State, the NCAA or Television Networks should and shouldn’t do. I have read every repugnant word of the grand jury report, every story, misguided or otherwise, while listening to every flawed interview in their entirety. The following are things that I have learned over the past few days. Make no mistake, the best thing we can do right now is learn.
I get it. Joe Paterno, to this point, was regarded as something of an idol. When you think Penn State, you inevitably think ‘Joe Pa’ and I bet we always will (Though, now for much different reasons). He seemed to be the standard for heading and maintaining an elusive and “clean program.” As it turns out, he wasn’t. When we are witness to such a fall from grace within the sports world, we feel betrayal, anger and surprise. If you felt such feelings, you mistook college football — and hell, sports in general — for something it isn’t. You have forgotten all you’ve learned from Pete Carroll, or Ben Roethlisberger, or Mark McGwire (Just to LITERALLY name a few.). We’ve once again fallen prey to the doltish idea that we should look up to people that play/coach games in college — and not the people that teach the classes. We aspire to be like “heroes” whom we’ve never met, rather than emulating our personal heroes that we take for granted on a daily basis. I am as guilty as you are and we cannot let this keep happening.
On the actions of those involved in the cover-up:
If every one did what they are legally obligated to do, the law needs to be changed. There need to be clear and concise actions to take going forward. “Immediately call the authorities” would be one I’d consider starting with. Proper protection for those who actually take those actions would be another.
Actions of The Pennsylvania State University and the NCAA:
Every step that either The Pennsylvania University or the NCAA made in recent days has been about money. Period. Not the players, not the fans, not the best interests of the University and DAMN SURE not the victims, just very cold and very hard cash. Do you think sending the entire Penn State roster and its coaches on the road for AT LEAST two games against two rabid fan bases in the Big Ten is in the best interest of the players or coaches? Do you think the Rose Bowl committee saying that they will accept Penn State in a game rewarded to the best team in the Big Ten is a good way to represent the conference? Do you think the fans of Penn State’s opponents are able to fully enjoy their team when they see the Nittany Lions take the field? Do think it’s easy for each of Jerry Sandusky’s victims to see no action taken against the university, or at minimum the football program? Do you think anything looks as important to Penn State as football apparently is?
Jerry Sandusky and Mike McQueary Interviews:
On the guy who tells you “I would’ve kicked his ass if I walked in on that.”:
That’s easy to say. It’s also stupid to think that you know exactly what you would do in such a horrific situation. If anything remotely positive can come from this, it would be that you and I now know what we should expect from ourselves if we were to find ourselves in such tribulation. God forbid.
On how the situation is being handled:
Through all of the miss-steps by everyone involved, all of the decisions made by the NCAA and Penn State and through all of the misguided chest-puffing by a small faction of Penn State students and fans, there is one thing that bothers me more than all of the rest. We’ve somehow reached a point where all of this is being treated as if it is over and in the past. I’m sorry, but this is the very tip of a very big and very dark iceberg.
We don’t know who else was involved:
Who’s to say that everyone remaining on the Penn State staff who coached this past weekend knew nothing? Who’s to say that any coach who has come and since gone to another program knows nothing? Who’s to say that no one on the board of trustees making decisions knows anything or were somehow involved? Furthermore, we don’t know what happened to the DA investigating the case that went missing. Why was his laptop found in a lake? Where the hell is he?
These are merely a few of the remaining unanswered questions, and to be frank, we really don’t know anything yet.
What I do know is that moving past this so quickly is an easy way for something like this to happen again. I do know that what has been presented so far is nothing but a load of wrong decisions that we should desperately work to correct as people. I do know that we need to keep talking about this until the open wound is as cleaned-out and healed as possible. And I do know that we need to learn from this so it never happens again.
Someday, we’ll be able to move past this and use sports as our escape once more. But right now, our attention needs to be directed toward those who couldn’t.
Follow Jeffery Sewing @j_sewing