"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27, 2010

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Piling on JoePa

Every day, in America, great lessons are on display.  Please allow us few minutes to explain.

Focused on Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, we Americans are watching the demise of a national icon.  Just a few years ago, Mr. Paterno was glorified as some form of demi – god for that combination of his age, endurance, leadership and accomplishments.  He was a football coach.  Many times he was either so incapacitated or injured that he could not even make it to the field.  His empire paid daily homage to him.  He earned much more than the president of the university and multiples of what was being earned by the lowly teaching assistants who conducted many of the learning classes at his university.  Reporters had to sue to even find out how much he was being paid.  Do you think Penn State and the JoePa regime were anomalies?  Do you not think the JoePa regime bears similarities to other regimes in major college towns across the country today?

Over 20 years ago, the Knight commission on intercollegiate athletics started an investigative process that focused on the many documented derelictions in college athletic programs.  Here, taken directly from their own reports, are observations about the state of college athletics in America:

  • In 1989, as a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports drew to a close, the trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (then known as Knight Foundation) were concerned that athletics abuses threatened the very integrity of higher education.
  • Except for the Ivy League, the schools which were involved were the most visible institutions of higher education in the country.
  • Can colleges and universities continue their traditional posture of upholding the highest values of personal character and integrity when they themselves display so little of either?
  • Public faith in higher education cannot be sustained if college sports are permitted to become a circus, with the institution itself little more than a supporting sideshow.

Arrogance in the athletic department of large public higher education establishments is rampant; fawning (actually terrified) sycophants both within and without the state payrolls of these schools stand around waiting for some false god or some athletic department head to rule on some kid or coach who has violated someone or something.   And it all revolves around money; and winning and power and excess.  There are no term limits; no mandatory rotation of duties and responsibilities.  Money runs the show – coaches are paid as if they were Hollywood entertainers.  Come to think of it, that about describes the way the way they act and the way they are treated.

The Knight commission issued reports in 1991, 1992 and 1993.  Again, every report, every finding, every recommendation is available at:  http://www.knightcommission.org/  They issued a ten year status report in 2001 and we are offering below just one summary observation from that report –

“We find that the problems of big-time college sports have grown rather than diminished. The most glaring elements of the problems outlined in this report – academic transgressions, a financial arms race, and commercialization – are all evidence of the widening chasm between higher education’s ideals and big-time college sports.”

Their most recent report came out in 2010.  Here is part of their summary recommendations:  
This report sets forth reforms that are achievable and that, if implemented, will create a foundation upon which future reforms can build.  Our blueprint for restoring educational values and priorities begins with strengthening accountability for intercollegiate athletics in three ways:

1.  Requiring greater transparency, including better measures to compare athletics spending to academic spending
2.  Rewarding practices that make academic values a priority
3.  Treating college athletes as students firs and foremost - not as professionals

Where have you heard some of these words before - transparency; better measures; values a priority?  Does anyone besides us see any connection; any analogy between the power and corruption in college athletes and the power and corruption in American governance?  Does anyone see this cult of the personality rampant; the money more important than any values; a justification process that always points to the protection of the insider; the lax enforcement of violations and other forms of trespasses?  Are we the only ones that see a direct tie-in between America being just about money; not limits; not discipline; not values and, if so, how on earth can we complain about colleges – athletic programs, coaches and athletes when the top elected jobs in the country are operating on similar distorted values?

One of the most disappointing aspects of the Penn State mess is the rapidity with which sycophants who two or three brief years ago were fawning over JoePa, may he rest in peace, are now removing his statue (what kind of fool builds statues to football coaches at a public institution of higher learning?) and shutting down the football team (what the heck did the current football players do?) and fining the fat cats some chump change for their transgressions (did anyone consider banning the fat cats entirely?)

It is not just JoePa who is to blame even though he got caught up in the nonsense and the power and the money and its all encompassing corruption.  He was just a coach; just a man; same feet of clay the rest of us have.  Even JoePa needed someone to set some limits and discipline on him.  We failed him by not doing so.

If you want to change things start at the top.  In the federal capitol and the state capitols - Term limits; spending limits; debt limits; repay the debt and stop this madness that creates a mythology of men, money and their plans overwhelming common sense and values. 

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