America’s College Athletics Culture Needs a Serious Overhaul
Sickening scandals are becoming far too prevalent in collegiate athletics.
Updated: Sept. 2, 2018 • 10:55 AM ET
Urban Meyer is just the latest coach to find his name involved in a collegiate scandal.
Admittedly, I’m a college football fan. There’s seldom a feeling better than entering a jolting stadium filled with tens of thousands of cheering fans drowned out by only the booming loudspeakers. The taste of sweet kettle-cooked popcorn, washed down with a refreshing soda and some cotton candy; I can already feel my teeth rotting in their gums. College football is supposed to be a game filled with passion, tradition, respect and admiration. Instead, however, it now seems that hardly a few months can pass by without another scandal surfacing.
Ohio State head coach Urban Myer’s suspension for actions, or lack thereof, in a domestic abuse scandal involving assistant coach Zach Smith are only the most recent in an ever-degrading NCAA. Not too long ago, reports came out involving the University of Maryland, the school’s mistreatment of players and the death of 19-year-old Jordan McNair. Before that, Rich Rodriguez found himself in the midst of accusations of sexual assault and abuse, which forced the University of Arizona to terminate its relationship with him.
It seems that no institution is safe from some sort of detestable behavior. Baylor parted ways with former head coach Art Briles in 2016 in the wake of sexual assault cases involving two players and one former player. Meanwhile, reports revealed that Michigan State had either protected or ignored decades of appalling actions by gymnastics trainer Larry Nassar under their watch. And who could forget the infamous Penn State scandal that led to the toppling of one of college football’s most iconic coaches, Joe Paterno?
It doesn’t seem like a year can pass without some sort of college scandal happening, especially in football. It’s one thing to learn of payments and corruption; that’s to be expected with the billion dollar empire that is the NCAA. It’s when these outrageous circumstances of sexual abuse, domestic abuse and straight up regular abuse that goes on unabashed at programs across the country that needs to be addressed.
It’s time for the NCAA to get its house in order. As an institution, the NCAA is obligated to protect their kids; but more importantly, they need to keep the programs under their banner in check. Too often, schools and administrations look the other way when scandals break out. But most importantly, it also comes down to us as fans.
I’ll often spend my entire Saturdays watching games. I love the game. But it’s disgraceful that there are fans who choose to attack the victims and not put an individual’s human dignity above the reputation of a program. Really? Is football and sports really that important? What does a program represent when it and fans choose to protect violent offenders over victims?
Back in 2012, thousands flocked to the defense of Joe Paterno. They weren’t entirely wrong coming to his defense, claiming that Paterno wasn’t Sandusky, nor did he partake in the revolting behavior. Reminder, Paterno did not admit having the knowledge of what was going on — same with Myer and most of these other coaches. But why did he, these other coaches and administrators in their own programs do nothing? How can any dignified human being value winning football games over the safety of children and women?
It’s repulsive to think that we live in a culture where we consider winning sports games more important than the lives and safety of people. Reality check, sports are supposed to be for entertainment. College sports are supposed to provide some students, who may otherwise have no chance of attending college, an opportunity to improve their lives. And even if we consider players as celebrities of a certain degree, they are not gods. They’re not members of some high-class aristocracy, where the rule of law doesn’t apply like it does to the rest of us feeble peasants.
What kind of example are we setting for the next generation? Don’t worry, it’s okay to abuse and sexually assault, so long as you excel within the sport? I know that there has been a crackdown, but it should not take literally years of abuse and the death of a 19-year-old for Maryland to step in. It should not have taken four decades of sexual abuse for Sandusky and Nassar to get locked up. And fans should not get upset and attack the real victims because their team might have a bad year with the removal of a cancer from their program.
We should be better than this. We need to be better than this. It’s time for us to demand that the NCAA and the programs we cheer for act better than this.
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