Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's Wrong With Football: St. Joe Pa

Famously Bobby Jones brushed off a compliment on his following the rules of golf with the comment that you might as well thank someone for not robbing a bank. As near as I can figure those pushing Joe Pa for saint of nice guy and patron of his university are, in fact, thanking him for not robbing a bank. The logic of having football programs with universities attached is that it's a situation that benefits the university in its core mission: educating students. Consequently, it ought to be the case that PSU's football prowess led to increases in its endowment, better libraries, and improved its rank, to the extent that means anything.  This claim of do-gooderism isn't, or shouldn't be, a canonization of Joe Pa but rather an indictment of his colleagues, who don't engage in the same sustained commitment to improving the universities core mission, which is educating students. Other than doing what he is supposed to do, it is unclear to me what all the noise is about.

Given that doing his job is sufficient to catapult Joe Pa in the stratosphere of great moral leaders among college football coaches (I cannot think of single profession in which doing what is expected of you leads to canonization) the rest of them must be pretty bad at fulfilling the minimum standards of either creating profit or ensuring that the basics of the contract, ensuring that that profit goes to the university's core mission. A fact that is underscored by the steady drumbeat of scandals emitted by the various big and small athletic programs.

Consider this collegiate athlete's experience in the women's basketball program at a Div II school. Her coach was so verbally abusive that she and
numerous scholarship players, including former Monroe standout Marissa Young and former Milton standout Kassi Blumer, either transferring or quitting the team after the season, [the coach] resigned in August 2008.
Indeed, so scarred was she that
[h]elping Gerber put her experience at St. Joseph's behind her proved to be an ongoing process for Whitewater coach Greg Henschel.

"When I initially met with her, it was clear she was just not going to, in my opinion, trust a college coach because of her experience," Henschel said.

"I just felt like I was walking the finest line I had ever walked with a recruit. … I felt on some levels we were still even recruiting her a little bit once she was here."
 So a no name college which -- almost assuredly makes no money -- hires a coach who is so driven to succeed that she ruins several students lives for a, at least, a short period of time.

What, I wonder, does the pressure to succeed do to the rest of this stalwart shapers of young men and women.

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