Nobody learns because nobody wants to learn. Nobody listens because its much too fun to shout.And the Penn State scandal grinds on.Sunday was another signature day in not getting it. The Joe Paterno statue came down, which was far more trivial an event than it was made out to be, but more to the point, NCAA president Mark Emmert decided to make the same mistake that begat the entire scandal.He decided that power was the cure for a series of crimes based on power.Not that we should have expected otherwise. Jim Delany, the commissioner of the Big 10 Conference, thought the same thing. Men of power always think an abuse of power can be fought with more power, which is why abuses of power are so plentiful.Emmerts decision, which seems to be have been made in a committee of one in front of his shaving mirror, is to be announced in the morning and will, if reports are accurate, severely curtail the Penn State football programs ability to compete and generate money.Which is all very feel-good-ish and PR-gold-mine-ish. But its downfall is built in, because it is so monumentally self-serving.The school is to be fined in the eight-figure range, lose scholarships and bowl opportunities, all in the name of the NCAAs catch-all institutional control clause. This, despite no investigation other than reading the Freeh Report, and despite having no essential understanding of who should be punished or why.No, this was Emmert seizing power to address a problem that was defined by the defense of power. It is what the NCAA does best when confronted by the misdeeds of the few it punishes the many, and most of them had nothing to do with the crimes in question.The fine is intriguing, but it could have been explained away easily if it had been earmarked for the victims of Jerry Sanduskys horrors, and then for the furtherance of the fight against child abuse. That would have been acceptable. More than acceptable, in fact.But Emmert wanted to punish someone to quell the shouts about NCAA inertia, and did the only thing the NCAA can ever do -- punish those who remained behind.You see, the failure AT Penn State wasnt a failure OF Penn State. It was of five, and perhaps more, adults one who raped children, and the others who put the power of their offices ahead of decency, ethics and justice. Of those, one is in jail, another is dead, two more are indicted, a fifth probably will be, and there are others whose knowledge and inaction are likely to be revealed in time.It was also a failure not of football but of administration. Football is games and practices and players. Administration is about the handling of employees and university-wide issues. And the fact is that Paterno wasnt acting as a coach but as an administrator when he helped obscure and obstruct discovery and prevention of Sanduskys crimes.But the guilty are beyond the NCAAs reach, so the only reason for Emmert to want to punish those left behind with Mondays announcement is for the power to do so. And the only reason for him to do so without even the barest attempt at independent fact-finding is to get the power as quickly as possible.In short, he is one more guy who thinks having power is the solution, rather than the start of another problem. And just as people who think the death penalty was a good idea, or who worried more about the statue than the victims, or who wanted to bitch endlessly about symbolism without considering the solution, this is just trying to fix something with the same tool that broke it.And thats the most benign explanation.
Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.
There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.
But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.
And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.
In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.
Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.
But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.
And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.
So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.
And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.