I’ve been surprised to find many sports writers saying that the NCAA penalty of Penn State didn’t go far enough — that football should have been suspended there for a period. The penalties were harsh, but football does survive, if in crippled fashion.
I do think Joe Nocera looked beyond Penn State to the unaltered reality, the point I was trying to make in a column last week about the country’s football fanaticism (including, but not limited to Arkansas). Writes Nocera of the New York Times:
What was most galling about [NCAA president Mark] Emmert’s news conference was its sanctimony. He kept talking about the “values” that athletics was supposed to embody, about how college sports is supposed to be an integral part of academic life, and how it should never overwhelm the mission of the university. “Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” he said.
But at big-time sports schools, football is always placed ahead of everything else. The essential hypocrisy of college sports is that too many athletes are not real students — and no one cares. Coaches make millions and lose their jobs if they fail to win. Universities reap millions by filling stadiums and making attractive television deals. They serve as the minor leagues for the pros. Everybody knows this — including the N.C.A.A. The notion that the Penn State case is going to change all of college sports is absurd. College football almost can’t help but corrode academic values. Nothing that happened on Monday is going to change any of that.