The Corruption in College Sports

Big-time college sports is a corrupt enterprise. It is marred by the perfect storm of greed, glory and the cult of personality. The amount of money being generated is so overwhelming that people who consider themselves to be moral have become corrupt. And yet the pursuit of victory and money is so normalized in our society that time and time again we see those who stand for honesty and asking for change being marginalized. We sit and watch as solumn executives talk in platitudes about student-athletes and how it's not about the money when we know better. Yet they continue to look us in the eye and pretend to be honest. Why do we buy it?

The lure of money is well-known and the college landscape is awash in cash. The effect of an opportunity to be set for life is insidious. But because our society tends to glorify wealth (at least we do for ourselves), traditions and loyalties are easily discarded and sold to the highest bidder. One example is the University of Texas. They sold the relationship they had with their own fans to ESPN for $300 million. When I say they sold the loyalty I mean in the sense that the relationship is no longer with the university; it is with the TV network as ESPN and the university launched a station called The Longhorn Network (“LHN”). This is a 24/7 network full of Longhorn programming. In other words, it’s a niche market. But because ESPN is now expecting a return on this investment they are trying to strong-arm Time-Warner into carrying it on their basic cable network instead of charging a premium for this. Time-Warner is refusing and have to weather the attempts of ESPN and The University of Texas to paint it as the bad guy. Because of this two Longhorn football games that normally would have been seen on either network television (ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox) or standard cable (ESPN) were not available for viewing except for small market cable-providers which carried the LHN. Yet the executives at The University of Texas are all smiles because they have the money. And many of the alumni of the university continue to gloat how “We’re the Jones’,” when in fact the money to pay for the eventual airing of the new network is coming from them! The University forced “value” into the distribution network by extracting money from their own alumni. Keep in mind that The University of Texas already was the number one revenue producer in the entire US in terms of sports. But it wasn’t enough. There is a saying by a man named Benjamin Disraeli: “Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage.” The Big 12 conference, long dominated by The University of Texas (in matters of politics and decision making) has become highly unstable and lost several teams including Texas A&M. This rivalry with Texas has dates back over one hundred years; but money made it expendable. This was an example of knowing when to forego an advantage and the Longhorns missed it in my opinion.

Next to greed I consider the emotional state of college football fans as the second biggest driving force behind the corruption. It seems to me that the rabid alumni of universities such as Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC and other universities with chronic recruiting violations only care about winning and not how it is achieved. In my view it is a statement to the depths of their emotional immaturity as purported adults derive extreme levels of vicarious pleasure derived from the accomplishment of mercenaries; mercenaries that are strangers to the fans. It is well known that many stars in college football and basketball are black. Yet in a region dominated by a racist legacy you see a conference (the SEC) full of black players being supported by white fan bases that probably wouldn’t give them a second thought were they not wearing the jersey of choice. This is a very controversial statement I’m sure but I’m from the south and the legacy of the Confederacy was alive and well when I was in Florida. The problem will continue as long as the emotional needs of the fans are centered on victories and not on their own lives and character. It is incredible to read the statements of fans of certain universities enabling the indiscretions of their coaches and alumni in the pursuit of elite athletes. The “everybody does it” argument is rampant. Denials are everywhere. But we know of the schemes such as chips being left at gambling casino tables for the family members of coveted players to pick-up to cash. This is virtually untraceable. We also know of phantom jobs and “$100 dollar” handshakes. Everybody seems to laugh and consider themselves sophisticated because of these schemes yet in the end what does it say about humans?

Finally I mentioned the cult of personality. This is personified by Joe Paterno. We have just learned that he possibly mishandled allegations of child-molestation by one of his top assistant coaches. It has been reported that Paterno mentioned the allegation of the sex act to his boss and then washed his hands of it. This happened a few years ago. Now it has come out and people still support Paterno as he is seen as the face of Penn State University. Undoubtedly he has done many good things in his life; but when the act was reported to him it appears that football was prioritized. Yesterday he ran practice as usual. In other words, football remained the priority. I believe the power of who he was sheltered him long ago when he decided not to call the police or fire his assistant. And the protection is in place now as they are frantically trying to find out a way to save his legacy. And for what? Because he won the most games?

I love to watch sports and have attended numerous games in person over my years as well as having played sports. But I’m starting to think the best sports to watch are the youth flag football games that preach fun and sportsmanship. I have coached at this level and it was pure, clean fun. I still admire great athletes and will ooh and ahh at their exploits but you will never hear me brag about a win ever again. I don’t care about that. I don’t want to be like that. And they won’t get my money either. I’m out of it….

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Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Well, well, well --- what better time to pub this than right after that awesome SEC conf game last Sat! Since we both have The South in common, I definitely ain't gonna argue with your comment about the state "of the confederacy is alive and well," although it's really too bad. I remember growing up in Tallahassee in pre-desegregation days (good grief, what a word! Is it legal? Sorry!) and asking my FSU prof father about FL A&M, because I didn't understand it's status as a college. I had only seen FL State. He explained it wasn't fair that so many students at FL A&M could not attend FSU when they wanted to study subjects that maybe fell short at A&M. He talked about their focus on ag and I think engineering, then said, hesitantly, "but, honey, they have a football team that would put a lot of universities to shame." Now, of course, thankfully, things have changed. But, like you, I've literally been sickened by the often unknown amounts of money and "perks" (which sometimes get caught, but often don't) in college football everywhere. I'm an SEC fan, live in Tenn, which is, notoriously, one of the worst universities in the south to bend rule and rave for ONLY the Vols. I've had Vols season tickets, partied down on the river, etc., then been ashamed later at things surfaced. I remember Arkansas making fun of the SEC before they became part of it, and I've been laughing ever since. Since I'm an old Bear fan, and Ala usually has our no. 1 vote, and my SO is from Louisiana, last week's game had me split, but it was a heck of a game, and I can't wait to see what happens with whoever winds up playing each of those teams. Unfortunately, since I live in the home of the TN Titans, I won't even say anything about money. I was absolutely appalled at the mess Chris Johnson made over money up to the last second this year. Titans have been through hell since McNair's death and notoriously riotous players, and all that money when people in this city and others are homeless and starving has changed the way I view prof sports, too. I still love all the games--on all levels--my 9yr-old grandson just went thru his 1st learning season, and I'm so proud just to watch him tackle to prove he's who he is--no money involved (maybe a treat!) Sorry for the length, but you hit a nerve.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

You're from Tallahassee!?! So am I! My Father went to FSU on an athletic scholarship back in the 50's (gymnastics) and ended up getting his PhD there. I grew up no that campus. We moved to Texas in 1970. I was devastated. I loved Tally and still haven't gotten over it!

I know my comment about the Confederacy probably was over the top a bit but some things die hard. It was a pride thing back in the 60's. That's been a while. Texas does not view itself through the prism of the Confederacy because Texas is Texas. But there are folks who want to wave that flag still and it's an issue at times.

I love a good game and watched the LA-Ala game. I know the SEC plays great football. The thing is the players are good whether there is cheating going on or not. It's a shame they all can't just go to where they want without all the under the table stuff. We'd still see great games. But it's the fans and the money that makes it bad. Of course it's on the players not to take a bribe but you know we're on planet earth so I guess that's the way it is. Look at the Cam Newton situation. His father was shopping him around but somehow he ended up at Auburn without taking a bribe. Hard to believe....


Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

I'm so shocked to find you're from Tally, too, I forgot what I wanted to say. Actually, since I've been an SEC fan my whole life, I remember some real doozies that came out that schools wanted to keep indoors. There was a time when --- not now. Greed/money/media changes everything. There was a time I could walk that campus in my dreams; I went to the FSU Demonstration School (where they taught teachers); my dad was on that faculty and the art/drama department. Believe me, I'd rather face a dean w/indiscretions! Walked the wall around the fountain until I was dizzy (actually have a photo of it somewhere), learned to swim and work balance beams before I was in the 1st grade. Good memories. Be funny if your dad was one of my teachers at that gym! Times not far off! I still wear a worn-out Seminole tee for fun but try to remember not to wear it in Gainesville. Gators eat Seminoles! Sorry. Couldn't help memory lane. Still a good college town.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Sorry I took so long to get back to this. Yep Tally is my hometown. I hope to make another visit before I leave this world. I visited back in the 90's and it was very emotional. It is deeply inbedded in my heart as is FSU. I learned to swim in the big pool there (it used to have a platform diving tower that my Father would dive from. He could do a handstand and then jump!). I spent much time in old Tully Gym and saw many basketball games (Dave Cowens!). Damn... I'm starting to become emotional...


Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Yep. I learned to swim in that same big pool! (before you were born, of course) and spent hours in the gym next door. Can still smell it! (The pool--not all smell like that!) Loved sitting in the balcony watching the swim team practice. So we really do have the same hometown--weird. Meridian Road was where I grew up--we lived more toward town, but my grandfather's plantation was way out {Bannerman Road after him) not much, but my roots go way deep, and I'm getting nostalgic for the bobcats and 'gators! Sorrry----all over everywhere except sports! I just remember my dad's assessment of FL A&M's football (pre-deseg, of course}; probably thought FSU needed some!


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

I lived at 2409 Oxford Road and went to elementary school at Caroline Brevard and 6th grade at Bellvue. For some reason I seem to recognize the name Meridian Road. You really are tapping into my memory and heart here. I wrote a new poem called Depression or Reality and it came from talking to you a bit here. It made me think of my childhood and I have to admit I became upset on the inside thinking about it. Anyway it's just a wonderful part of my life and I was so sad when we moved. It's weird because I'm 53 and I still have that pain on the inside of leaving. There was so much love for my friends and upbringing. You don't realize how something like that is so deeply engrained.....


Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Oh, yes, I do. Older than you, but still remember so much--born and raised in that particular part of the south and that particular town can evoke all kinds of memories in people! You got to me on the pool at that big gym--I took swimming lessons two days a week and the other three watched the team work out while I waited on my dad to finish his day at the university. And, yes, one of my first hubs "too long love story....." was true and based on my grandfather there. It'll always be "home" ---

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