Nothing Is More Important Than College Football

Thank God Penn State was able to play Saturday! Your author was in desperate need of free entertainment and there is nothing quite so satisfying as watching twenty-year-old student-as-customer athletes, in the words of Andrew Dickson White, “agitate a bag of wind.”

And what a game! 107,903 people crowded into Beaver Stadium to watch a group of twenty-two kids slug it out on the gridiron. The AP found a Penn State fan who was ecstatic:Penn State

“It’s therapy,” Dave Young, a lifelong Penn State fan, said before the game. “I love Penn State football, always will love Penn State football. Tough week, cried in my office a couple times when I had moments to myself.

“But now it’s time to release and watch the football game and enjoy it.”

You said it, Dave. Release it is. Whenever I even consider that the mighty Penn State may have had to miss a game—a football game!—I shiver and, yes, I weep, too. But let us fall on our knees and thank the dear Lord that this calamity did not occur and that Nike, Adidas, and the other sponsors who provided wind breakers and socks to the coaches of the two teams—for a substantial consideration—still had ample opportunity to showcase their products.

That hundred-thousand-plus number of attendees is important. As George Will (who also provided Cornell’s A.D. White quote) reminds us, it is the number of fans that television networks use to gauge the success of a school. The more fans, the more the networks want to sign the team—I mean school. And then the more moola that flows into the team’s—I mean school’s—coffers.

Sure, most of the money that is taken in has to be sent right back out in the form of multi-million dollar paychecks to the head coaches, and hundreds of thousands, even millions more, for the salaries of assistant coaches. More great wads of cash go to assistants to the assistants, to Deans to watch over it all, to groundskeepers and peanut vendors.

And then there’s the money for field, stadium, athletic buildings, and equipment maintenance. Oh, right, and the monies, paltry really, towards the scholarships (paid in lieu of salaries) of the amateur players themselves so that they can take majors in such rigorous fields like Sports Management, Business, and Communications. The broken bones and torn hamstrings are well worth the trouble these kids put themselves through, considering the greater glory of the Alma Mater and the increase in knowledge in Sports Management.

The band gets a few bucks slid their way, as do the cheerleaders, those lovely creatures the TV cameras always manage to find time for. In fact, it’s good to mention cheerleaders because I have long suggested my own school make greater use of these skirted athletes.

The school can cash in on them just as they do the football squad. I suggest wealthy alumni be allowed to schedule private viewings with the cheerleaders of their choice. Lock donor and athlete in a room and let the donor really put the cheerleader through her paces. Talk about an increase in school spirit! The school and the girl would split the tips.

And these sessions could be filmed, just as the games are, and sold to certain cable affiliates. We’re talking real money here and that is what is most important, which is in complete agreement with those who argue for the status quo in football.

Now, I know this is a sensitive time to bring up football, given the horrible events that occurred in the Penn State locker rooms. A lot of folks just can’t get it out of their minds that, for example, assistant coach Mike McQueary came across child rapist Jerry Sandusky buggering a ten-year-old in the shower and that he failed to call the police and instead called coach Joe Paterno, who then told school administrators who themselves thought it was best to keep quiet about the matter, except to tell the local District Attorney who has suddenly gone missing (with his computer which contained sensitive evidence). What many commentators fail to remember is that Penn State had a big game coming up the next week. Starting some big “do” at that moment could have hurt the team’s chances at a national championship—a national championship for goodness sake!

Some even argue, given what happened, that less of an emphasis should be paid to sports and more to academics. But this is just wrong, because it forgets how important entertainment is to our great nation. Take football away from college and what do you have? Nothing but classrooms, libraries, and students with their noses buried in books. And who wants that?


  1. Speed

    For all the apologists out there … what if the coach had come across a Penn State employee murdering a ten-year-old, failed to call police and instead called coach Joe Paterno who then told school administrators who themselves thought it was best to keep quiet about the matter, except to tell the local District Attorney who has suddenly gone missing …

    While direct payment to the school for TV rights etc. is obvious and easy to track, the real payoff is in donations … which can’t be directly tied to sports. But how many wealthy alums would have such love for their alma mater without 20 or 30 years of exciting Saturdays on campus or in front of the big screen watching the Nittany Lions?

    Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.

    “But now it’s time to release and watch the football game and enjoy it.”

  2. dearieme

    I’m glad to learn that coaches are assisted in breaking wind. College sport is clearly an ornament to American culture.

  3. Weston

    I’m a huge college football fan, and root for my alma mater on a weekly basis.

    However, I’m becoming more apathetic and distressed everyday with the entire system of college athletics trying to hide behind the guise of ‘student’ athletes. I read a quote the other day that it’s become a sad state of affairs when people are living vicariously through the lives of semi-literate teenagers… And that’s what a lot of these athletic departments/big time donors/fans have turned into: Old man cheerleaders. (A visual that i personally don’t want to see.)

    If you read the details about the whole UNC fiasco, you’ve got several instances of the tail wagging the dog when it comes to football program running the academic side. And then I read that Penn St may be investigated for not providing a safe environment for the general well being of the student population (the idea that there was a known child molester on campus and they did not report), possibly resulting in loss of federal funding for the school!? Maybe someone can comment on how accurate that is, but if that’s the case, then it could be the first time the school itself gets really punished as a result of the athletics department protecting the team’s (I mean school’s) name.

    I’m getting really tired of this academics-be-damned in the name of college sports thing. I hope that something big happens, soon.

  4. Speed’s what-if comment above is on the money.

    Some liberal bloggers are saying that Republican child-molestors are hypocrites. The sub-text is clear. They are saying, in effect, “We all know Democrats lie, cheat, steal and molest children. But it’s hypocritical of a Republican to do the same, while claiming to tread the straight and narrow.” And, as the media is all too willing to inform us, hypocrisy is the worst of all crimes.

    Does a young boy who’s anally raped care about the political affiliation of his attacker? No, but you’ll find plenty of DEMOniCRAT-leaning bloggers who do!

    Disclaimer: I want every Republican criminal revealed, prosecuted and put into prison. Strange, no? Oh yeah, and the same goes for Democrat criminals.

  5. @ dearieme. At least I thought it was funny. Talk about dunderheads……

  6. @ HPJ, Jr.
    Funny you should mention “hypocrites”. Just spent the morning with a whole building full. I think some of them were Democrats, too, but couldn’t tell for sure. Seemed like nice folks in spite of, and all that. But it is interesting that being one is the “worst of all crimes” possible – apparently even worse than buggering ten year olds – to so many otherwise intelligent, thoughtful and enlightened individuals. Who knew?

  7. Matt

    I think that the failure of the university officials to report the incident to the police is morally reprehensible.

    However, in most jurisdictions failure to report a crime is not itself a crime for very good reasons.

    While I don’t think the Penn State coach should get a pass just for being a successful coach, I also think it is rather sleazy for his bosses to fire him for failing to do what they themselves were unwilling to do just to save their own reputations in the court of public opinion.

  8. @ Matt

    According to my reading, Paterno was fired, as was his boss, the university president. The trustees of the university fired both men. The trustees were not privy to the original crimes at the times they were committed.

    So, I’m not seeing, how it was “…rather sleazy for his bosses to fire him for failing to do what they themselves were unwilling to do…”

    If I’m in error, I would appreciate being set right.

  9. Mary Brown

    The kids on this year’s team had nothing to do with it. The whole sordid affair really had nothing to do with football. The fans and alumni and 99.9% of the people at the University had nothing to do with it.

    As a Penn Stater, I’m horrified by the events and I’m glad the Board fired the whole lot of them. I’m disappointed beyond belief…but the world goes on. I’m proud how the rest of us have demanded accountability and decided to march forward with the “success with honor” mantra. This has always been a point of pride at Penn State and that won’t change despite this colossal failure.

  10. Briggs

    Mary Brown,

    I’m with you. I almost had to turn on bowling on Saturday. Or go out in the yard and play—which is my case is Second avenue.

  11. Marty

    Oh, it’s a bit weird but really, on the whole, harmless. You (and I) don’t have to partake.

    It’s not like those 107K people were Occupying Harrisburg or Philly or something.

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