Saturday, May 10, 2014

The disgustingly unique American economic activity in the world: college sports

Most of my leftist colleagues, some who even proudly call themselves as "socialists," are ardent fans of college sports.  It is hilarious to me when I hear them in the hallways using "we" when talking about their favorite teams, usually the university where they earned their doctorates.  However, in all these years, I have never heard them loudly discussing and condeming sexual violence and college sports. And, boy, have there have been some cases!  Maybe they discuss them only the days I am not on campus (yeah, right!)

The latest violence?  In the very town where I live.

The university associated with the massive sports corporation called The Ducks is all over the news now after it was reported that three of its basketball players had been investigated over rape charges but are not being prosecuted because "the crimes cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt."
The female victim told police that on the night of March 8 she went to basket­ball player Johnathan Loyd’s house, where Dotson and Austin allegedly took her into a bathroom and forced her to have sex with them, according to a Eugene police report released Monday night. Artis stayed in a hallway outside the bathroom, the report said.
The victim alleged that the three players then took her to an apartment and continued to take turns forcing her to engage in unwanted sexual activity, the report said. The players allegedly stopped only when the victim began to cry.
What the hell is wrong with these student-athletes?  

The three have been kicked off the team, even though the criminal justice system will not pursue the case.  One of them apparently has a past record as well:
Austin originally signed with Providence last year but was suspended for the season and transferred to Oregon in January. He was not eligible to play last season. It was announced in March that Austin is being investigated in a sexual assault in Rhode Island.
Nobody bothered to ever find out why the player was suspended by a university?
What the hell is wrong with the coaches?

Sports in colleges as a big time economic activity, which is disgustingly a uniquely American thing, has taken over higher education.

On Facebook, I do not see status updates from users who usually otherwise post a great number about "their Ducks."  Fanatical sports fans yet strangely super-silent now.

Meanwhile, the real purpose of higher education--you know, education--gets maligned, and is thrown whatever crumbs are left after the party is over.  The people in all their wisdom enthusiastically support college sports, professional sports, and anything that is sheer entertainment, and are eager to pay for all that even with taxpayer money. Especially with taxpayer money.  But, ask them to spare a dollar from that for education, and it is murder.
The richest nation in the history of the world subsidizes all sorts of luxuries and inefficiencies. Football stadiums, bridges to nowhere, bases and planes that even the military does not want, churches, temples, cathedrals, and vacation homes. Yet in the present consensus on the future of our higher learning, the notion that perhaps we can afford a reasonable level of public investment in the inefficient institutions that gave us the Green Revolution and Google is deemed unrealistic. The public debate is locked on measurable outputs. But the opportunity costs of failing to reinvest never come up. What is the public expense, for instance, if we continue to gouge funding for research on communicable diseases or climate change? How do we measure the cost of failing to inspire and guide the student who might write the next great work of political thought that can guide us safely through the challenges of this century? Why can’t the richest country in the world afford to adequately support passionate potential scholars in the pursuit of their calling? We make explicit value choices in this republic. We have chosen tax breaks over history, poetry, and science. Nothing is inevitable. We can choose otherwise.
I suppose in condemning this supposedly market behavior, I will side with those "socialists."

Oh well, this local rape story will go away.  The college football season will begin. "My team" people will only care about the wins, and not care a shit about education, and not care a shit about violence--physical and sexual.  As long as "we" win!  "Just win, baby!"

I hurriedly clicked this guy wearing a "I love my Ducks" ...  when waiting for the crosswalk green light ...
in Tampa, Florida! Diagonally across the continent!


Ramesh said...

Hey; I understand your rage, considering that you have been voluble about college sports, but calm down and consider the number of issues you have tackled in this post.

Firstly no issue at all on taxpayer funding college sports. That is a disgrace. The supposedly amateur nature of college sports is another disgrace.

Having said that, college sports is a very good thing. And the level of affiliation is great as well. Just don't fund it from taxpayer money; that's all.

I don't see what the rape issue has to do with college sports. Anybody who rapes - be it student, athlete, whatever deserves to be locked up and the key thrown away. They committed this crime, from what you have mentioned in this post, in their homes. What have the Ducks got to do with this. Or for that matter, what does the university have to do with this. I am foxed as to why the DA won't prosecute them, but I don't know the facts. If it is because they are famous athletes, then the DA deserves to be prosecuted. Just as the University should suffer no fall out over the acts of some nutcases in their spare time, neither should the Ducks. Its a different matter that in a number of instances that are coming to light, college athletes or coaches committed rapes in the sports field or showers or when they were being players. In that case, everything - book and all must be thrown against both the university and the college team.

I notice one trend from a few of our debates. You and I have diametrically opposite views on private and public acts by anybody. I will try hard to see your view point, but at the moment, I am not there !

Finally the issue of spending priorities in the US. Completely with you on that. Defense is a nut case. Medicare is close to becoming one. And you starve universities - one of the finest aspects of America. Why don't you do a series of posts on US Budget priorities like I did for India ?? Since your Congress can never pass any budget, its up to the citizens to offer one.

Sriram Khé said...

We are mostly in agreement. It is only in a couple of minor instances we disagree.

I am all ok with people identifying themselves with groups like sports teams. That is,after all, the tribal instincts in us. (Though, without a sportsmanship attitude, it terribly feeds the us-versus-them attitude in life.) That affiliation is not what I am worried about.

This is the latest in a long running series on universities looking the other way when athletes, especially of "quality" teams, engage in illegal activities. So, when you say what have "the Ducks" have to do with this, well, there are plenty. The rabid fandom that demands wins and championships almost never rise up when allegations like this surface. The fandom overlooks transgressions over and over again. Even worse, as was the case at Penn State, they even rallied behind the "beloved coach" who, according to the evidence, consistently ignored the red flags on sexual violence. "The Ducks" as in the fans and as in the university, as with quite a few other fans and their universities, allow such violence to happen by being silent and negligent.

I am hoping that we will see details on when the university president knew what he knew. Because, from the timeline it is clear that the reports were filed with the cops before the basketball "march madness" began. And, these three were not disallowed from playing for the team.

Last year, a football player, Huff, who was drafted in the first round a couple of days ago, sped through downtown exceeding speed limits. No police action and no university action.

Eugene is like many university towns across the US--a concept that pretty much has no equivalent outside the US. The university is a big deal in these towns. The university's sports become a huge deal. Thus, a great deal of sports-jingoism all the time. It is also that jingoism that, to quite some extent, makes the athletes think they are above the law, and the university and the population also adore the athletes ... Disgusting!

Ramesh said...

Ah. I understand where you are coming from. The virtual deification of athletes has created a culture where they can do anything and nobody will act.

What I am however surprised is that in a land where you can prosecute Kobe Bryant, Lance Armstrong, OJ Simpson , a massive list of NFL players, etc etc, why not some university punks ? Is it that if you are very famous, you get caught, but if you are only slightly famous, but a big thing in a small town, you can get away with ? If your University knew of the rape before March, but didn't act so that your team could do better, then your entire University administration must be exiled to Bophuthatswana.

Sriram Khé said...

First, here is the editorial from our town's paper (which is one of the rare, rare, family-owned papers that is not a part of a chain):
Via that editorial, you will get another perspective on why I rant on and on about how basketball and football have ruined higher education

Yes, the university knew that the players were under investigation. And, yes, at that time it was still "innocent until proven guilty" ... but, the typical practice in most enterprises is to remove the accused from action until things are cleared up, right?
Oh well ... this too shall pass and business as usual will soon return with the rabid fans yelling "Go Ducks!" at their loudest ...

Ramesh said...

I am still pouting that the good geography professor did not commend my knowledge of Bophuthatswana :):)

Sriram Khé said...

By the authority vested me in as the Ambassador of Bophuthatswana; and
By the authority of the Doctorate that I hold in the Economic Geography of Bophuthatswana;
I hereby award you the exclusive title of the Dean of Bophuthatswana.

You may now rise, Dean Ramesh!