What’s the common denominator that ties these lies and these liars together?
The myth of amateurism. The idea that in a capitalistic society there is value in competing athletically for no financial reward while the organizers stuff their pockets with told and untold millions. The outright lie that a man or woman’s integrity is revealed by his or her willingness to adhere to an outdated and immoral NCAA rule book.
Perhaps you are tired of seeing me harp on these themes. By now it’s obvious I hate amateurism and the governing body (the NCAA) that promotes and exploits it. You get it. But it’s equally obvious many others do not.
The sham of amateurism must be repeatedly thrown in the face of its beneficiaries and the people who believe it does no real harm. People don’t understand how corruption works and what breeds it. Too many Americans do not comprehend the lesson of Abraham Lincoln. He ended slavery because he realized its immorality undermined the very principles and values this country was founded upon.
OK, big-time college football and basketball do not threaten our republic. That is not what I’m arguing. But the concept and practice of amateurism within multi-billion-dollar businesses does breed an unhealthy cynicism within the participants and their supporters and breeds corruption within the administrators of the amateurism lie.
Amateurism is sports’ original sin. All other sin is a byproduct of the original sin.
Why did Joe Paterno look the other way when it was clear a monster lurked in his football offices? Why did Penn State choose to look out for the best interest of Jerry Sandusky rather than the best interest of Sandusky’s child victims?
Paterno and Penn State wanted to protect the profitable football institution it erected built on the myth that Paterno and Penn State won football games the right way, the NCAA by-the-rulebook way.
We are, Amateurs!
Manti Te’o is a myth built in support of amateurism. We were told his character was higher because he turned down NFL riches to return to good-old Notre Dame for his senior season. We never suspected he returned to school because he’s a naive child not ready for the real world.
Notre Dame is the spokesperson for the amateur myth. No institution lives the lie more enthusiastically, effectively and hypocritically than Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish rake in millions of dollars partnering with a television network that exclusively sells Notre Dame football. Yeah, Notre Dame had every reason to be willfully ignorant for as long as possible about Lennay Kekua.
No one should be surprised that Notre Dame conducted a sham, hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, look-for-no-evil internal investigation into Te’o and Kekua. Notre Dame has no incentive to look for or reveal its complicity in the Kekua fiasco.
Notre Dame is a symbol of the goodness and purity of amateurism.
I’m sorry. It never gets old for me to repeat the words of Walter Byers, the white conservative from Kansas who created the modern NCAA. In his 1997 memoir “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting the Student-Athlete," Byers wrote:
“Today the NCAA Presidents Commission is preoccupied with tightening a few loose bolts in a worn machine, firmly committed to the neo-plantation belief that the enormous proceeds from college games belong to the overseers (administrators) and supervisors (coaches). The plantation workers performing in the arena may only receive those benefits authorized by the overseers.”
In order to protect the system that Byers analogized to slavery, Charles Robinson of Yahoo! and NCAA investigators hopped in bed with a convicted ponzi schemer, Nevin Shapiro, to bring down the University of Miami football program.
This is what I mean when I say the original sin corrupts everything it touches. Shapiro bamboozled innocent people out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Shapiro’s father was a con man. Courtroom testimony alleges Shapiro has connections to the drug world. Whenever Shapiro’s lips move lie-detector machines throughout the United States convulse violently.
Yeah, NCAA president Mark Emmert should be shocked and embarrassed that his investigators were intimately involved with Shapiro’s lawyer and using bankruptcy hearings to further allegations against Miami.
I don’t believe for one second this is the first time the NCAA protectors of truth, justice and the American way unethically colluded with people of highly questionable character to trump up bogus charges.
There’s no honor and integrity in the way the NCAA practices amateurism. From Paterno to Te’o to Shapiro, we’re constantly reminded the NCAA system is rotten at its core.