Penn State and 'Setting the record straight'

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Penn State and 'Setting the record straight'

Today's lesson, students, is English translation. Today's phrase: "I Look Forward To Setting The Record Straight."This is common usage among those in positions of power who find their positions jeopardized by disclosure of an event or deed. It is being used most often these days by those in and around the child rape and cover-up scandals at Pennsylvania State University, most recently by former president Graham Spanier, who apparently needs more time to set the record straight on the Freeh Report.Now students, what can we take from this? The answer is clear. He needs time to concoct a series of implausible, indefensible, possibly dishonest and wholly nonsensical ways to defend his position in the 14-year cover-up of the crimes of serial rapist Jerry Sandusky.And why do we know this? Because the truth, if it can show that you have done nothing wrong, illegal, immoral or unethical, comes pre-assembled. You don't need an opportunity to clear your name. You take the opportunity. In this case, because people will drop what they're doing to hear your story.You see, the part of the phrase here that helps you decipher this, students, is "the opportunity." It implies that you cannot speak up until it is your turn, and if you are being accused wrongly of what Graham Spanier is being accused of, you don't wait your turn.RELATED: Ratto -- Focus on Penn State's administrators
This is also true of Jay Paterno, the son of the late head coach at Penn State, who also invoked the phrase last week in an interview with ESPN. And the same rules apply. The innocent get to cut the line if they can prove they or their loved ones did not do what they are being accused of by the rest of the nation.The guilty, on the other hand, wait for "the opportunity."RELATED: Ratto -- Paterno put 'the brand' ahead of human decency
Now let us move on to the next part of the phrase "the opportunity." What does that mean, exactly?Sometimes it happens via a stage-managed interview. Sometimes it happens in a courtroom. Typically, it is perceived by the person accused of being a safer time to give an explanation, and the delay allows time to prepare an explanation that is at least slightly less damning than the one already in public.For Jay Paterno, this might be more understandable, since the crimes and behaviors are not actually his to explain. He is defending his late father, which makes it all the more difficult.RELATED: Ratto -- Enough about Paterno's statue
But Spanier, who posed as the great moral arbiter of ethical behavior among college athletics when he was a power in the NCAA, has less reason to need a delay. And why is that, students?Exactly. Because he was there for every cover-up meeting. And if he can claim he wasn't, then that brings us to another question, which would be what?Precisely. "Well, where the hell were you then?"But the point here, and the one we will want a thousand words on by the end of the week, is the concept of "the opportunity to set the record straight." In your essays, please cover the following bullet points: Why "the opportunity" never comes with a specific date. Why "the opportunity" is something to be "looked forward to," rather than seized.
Why the longer it takes for "the opportunity" to be seized erodes the believability of the new altered record. Why the truth can be stated at any time, while "the opportunity" to tell the truth needs time to develop.Have your essays turned in by Friday, and remember, midterms are coming up, so re-read the sections on how a conspiracy works, institutional cowardice, and especially the sidebar, "Guilt born of arrogance so obvious it could fell a moose." Class dismissed.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

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Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
 
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
 
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
 
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
 
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
 
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
 
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
 
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
 
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
 
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
 
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
 
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.