Yes, sports is the university’s front porch, as we’re constantly told by the rascals who run football and basketball on campus; but … well, you know the rhyme:

When she was good,
She was very very good;
But when she was bad
She was horrid.

Looked at with any objectivity at all, of course, big-time university sports is horrid (intellectually and financially corrupting; crime- and riot-generating, university-bankrupting) even when it’s very very good — indeed, big-time university sports generally only gets to be very good (winning championships and tv deals) when it’s very very busy with recruiting scandals, buying out coaches at huge expense, hushing up team crimes, blahblahblah, you know the list. But the actual squalid vileness of the enterprise is usually managed. A dustup here, a dustup there, but the basic look of campus football and basketball is tidy, most of the malfeasance hidden.

The NCAA and the Knight Commission have big yearly meetings during which in a corporate pointless way they natter about the challenges and the issues facing the student-athlete as he aces calculus and kicks field goals during the same afternoon. These two entities – the NCAA and the Knight Commission – play a crucial role in keeping the actual nature of the university athletics endeavor hidden. They both look respectable; both bring knitted brows to the challenges and issues and prospects and promises of the grand endeavor. I think most people realize that these people are entirely empty suits – empty excellent suits – but no one cares. People care about the games, not the brow knitters whose job it is to make the system behind the games look legitimate.

So that’s when it’s good. When it’s good, it’s very very good, with tailgating and car tipping and bonfires and all; but when things go badly, they go really really really badly. Big-time sports is the front porch that keeps on giving, the big ol’ central spotlighted star of your campus, the only thing most people know or will know about your campus. So when one of your coaches fucks little kids in on-campus showers, the whole world gets to see that front porch; and when one of your professors – the highly compensated chair of a department – is running a fake courses racket for the teams, the whole world gets to see that front porch too.

That’s when we get to watch the sport of denialism. We get to watch Penn State trustees say it’s all a government conspiracy. We get to watch the University of North Carolina say it’s only that bitch Willingham plus that bastard Kane.

Children don’t like it when you take away their toys. It makes them very angry and vindictive. They like it even less when you punish them for their misdeeds. When they are bad, they are horrid.

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One Response to “Big-time University Athletics: The Front Porch that Keeps on Giving”

  1. BlancacasaPA Says:

    Somebody really needs to do a bit more reading on PSU. A prosecutor and judge who may have misled GJ witnesses about their counsel? More than a few lawyers and legal ethics blogs have raised eyebrows at what’s come out over the past several months. And then the same prosecutor tries to destroy email records when a new AG who has promised to look into the Sandusky investigation is elected? Who knows what the truth is, and I doubt many people involved in this are blameless, but the idea that there couldn’t be some deep corruption in PA government related to the mistakes the state made in the Sandusky case is not really that much of a stretch.

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