Monday, July 23, 2012

College Football Is Pure Again

The commanding generals of college football come down from the safety of lofty positions during Penn State’s battles to shoot the wounded and pick their pockets.

Taking away $60 million in fines and dozens of future athletic scholarships as well as past victories, the (paid) president of the NCAA harrumphs, “Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”

Purists can all rest easy now. College sports have been cleansed to continue under NCAA rules that turn institutions of higher learning into profit centers where student athletes, with no compensation or insurance, labor for the glory and financial gain of celebrity coaches and TV networks.

Joe Paterno’s statue is down, and all is well in the land of Saturday afternoon slavery except for those Penn State players who signed on for the possibility of future fame and wealth, only to be undermined by nasty news of a child predator in their midst.

Someone is paying a price for all this unpleasantness, but as usual, it’s not those who profit from it most.

Another NCAA official declares that college sports’ win-at-all-costs mentality has “got to stop...We’ve had enough.”

Of what?

 Update: Suitably enough, it is a columnist from the business and finance pages of the New York Times who makes the most apt comment on the Penn State penalties.

Joe Nocera points out that “at big-time sports schools, football is always placed ahead of everything else. The essential hypocrisy of college sports is that too many athletes are not real students--and no one cares. Coaches make millions and lose their jobs if they fail to win.

“Universities reap millions by filling stadiums and making attractive television deals. They serve as the minor leagues for the pros. Everybody knows this--including the N.C.A.A. The notion that the Penn State case is going to change all of college sports is absurd. College football almost can’t help but corrode academic values.”

Yet, even in a bad economy, the amount of money involved keeps mounting.

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