Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Politics and Sports Collide

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, and the scandal at Syracuse involving long time assistant coach Bernie Fine, the sports world has been left in shock. Not only are we left to wonder how these programs will recover and where do we go from here, but more importantly, how did we get to this point? How did we get to the point that the prestige of a sports program outweighs the rights of a human, especially a child? Does big money from T.V. contracts, alumni, and bowl championships drive the force under which any one opposing such institutions are crushed?

Unfortunately, this has been a long time coming in a culture such as ours. A place where professionals athletes like Albert Pujols are given millions of dollars to play a game. (He just signed today a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract.) We are a sports-obsessed, winning-obsessed culture in which we live vicariously through our athletes achievements, and scorn them when they take big money to go to another team.

Put yourself in their shoes because I know I would want to secure both my children's and grand-children's financial future with a simple contract. Further more, I do not condemn athletes for taking large contracts. This is America and we live in a capitalist economy. Business is business and in every day life, you have employers willing to cut you from employment at the drop of a dime. So why not take all the money you can get out of the system.

No, I'm not condemning the money behind the business. But I do condemn the business when it simultaneously crushes the rights and freedom of those get caught in the politics of sports. While I am horrified at the events at Penn State, I can't say that I'm entirely surprised. We as a society have emphasized winning at all costs. Winners, not losers, get the parade. They get to go on the Late Show. They get the interviews and the banner-raising ceremonies. We thirst for winning from our sports teams because we feel that in some way, we are winners too.

So it's no surprise that our culture has produced monsters such as Jerry Sandusk whose ability to carry out such crimes is hidden by the fact that he is a winner. Such was the reason that Tiger Woods was able to carry out his extra-marital affairs. The arena of sports is becoming more and more a place where child abuse occurs because of the lure of money. Parents who think that a coach can get them into a school or make them into a professional athlete have made themselves vulnerable to others taking advantage of their children.

Furthermore, like I have stated in previous blogs, we are a country unwilling to accept blame. It's not Penn State alone who should carry the blame, although they are largely responsible. Sports fans as a whole are responsible, myself included. We put so much emphasis of the need to win that we make sports authorities think twice when they are confronted with an issue that might damage their reputation. And it will only get worse.

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