Favorite

Brantley: We are Penn State 

click to enlarge Arkansas Razorbacks image

The independent review of the Penn State sex abuse scandal demolished the university's reputation.

The facts show football coach Joe Paterno ran the institution, not its president, athletic director or other officials. Despite certain knowledge of multiple allegations of sexual abuse by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, Paterno's influence swept crimes under the rug and Sandusky continued to abuse children.

Still, many athletic supporters want to make excuses. Said many, including a former Razorback publicist on a local radio talk show last week: Paterno made a single misjudgment among a lifetime of good deeds. This was factually wrong for one thing. Paterno made serial misjudgments, including coverup of rape and dishonest testimony to a Grand Jury. I wanted to scream at the radio: "What if it had been YOUR son, you sanctimonious jock sniffer?"

Paterno said that the Sandusky case was not a football scandal. It was. Former FBI Director Louie Freeh said in his summary of the independent investigation that the Penn State coverup could be explained, in part, by "a culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

This is where Arkansas — and everyone else devoted to big-time college sports — comes in.

Football and, less frequently, other sports, too often conquer all. We pay winning coaches such as Bobby Petrino 50 to 60 times what a tenured professor on the same campus makes. We spend fortunes to keep talented athletes with marginal academic skills qualified as gladiators. We countenance secrecy in spending of athletic millions that we'd never countenance in any other branch of government. An on-line checkbook for the Razorback Foundation? That'll be the day.

Arkansas knows sex scandals. Remember the famous "dorm incident?" Basketball players picked up a woman in a bar in 1991, had gang sex with her in the athletic dorm, then tossed her outside and locked the dorm door behind her. Police found her with a condom wedged in her vagina. The then-athletic director's early response: "Boys will be boys." The gangbang was not allowed to interfere with the basketball playoff season. Many Hog fans believed that the media's insistence on reporting the matter helped explain the Razorbacks' disappointing showing that year. The university president himself reduced the discipline handed down after the season by a campus judicial board. Hadn't the boys suffered enough?

Arkansas has been a positive symbol on occasion. Lou Holtz dumped football players involved in another sex scandal just before an Orange Bowl game that ended in a famous victory for both the Hogs and Holtz's "Do Right Rule." This year, current Razorback Athletic Director Jeff Long fired winning football coach Bobby Petrino, on the brink of an anticipated glorious season, for lying to cover up an illicit affair with a department subordinate.

The "Do Right" episodes are rare. The athletic facilities arms race never ends. Money's required. That requires winning. Don't think it's not part of the equation when coaches make the call to keep or banish hormone-juiced athletes who do stupid things.

The U.S. can no more swear off its addiction to the tribalism of high-dollar competitive athletics than it can swear off its love of guns. But we can demand consequences for those who put winning above the best interests of the athletes (making them play when injured for example), children, women or the occasional pencil-necked geek of a college prof who blows the whistle on athletic department abuses. Message for the Hog talk show Paterno apologist: It was not the week to talk about all the "good" Joe Paterno did in creating this monster.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Jeff Long, Razorback Foundation

Comments (35)

Showing 1-25 of 35

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 35

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • As to the AR Chamber of Commerce-DO NOT FORGET it supports passage of SJR8, which…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • Freedom from fear is a human right.

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation