Think, Know, Prove: College Football

I know I said the next TKP would be on remediation, but I still haven’t had a chance to give some scrutiny to the current version of the proposals, at least not enough to say what I think about them, so that will have to wait until I can. In the meantime, Penn State happened.

I was a fan of college football until I went to college. Even while I was there, for awhile, I’d say I was a fan. I went to a big football school when football was big there. I’m hesitant to say what it was that changed my mind or when it happened, lest I indulge in some wishful backwards thinking, but other than caring for the guys I knew playing, I didn’t really care. Maybe it was the philosophy influence (or some personal contrariness) that made we want to do or think (or be) whatever no one around me seemed to be doing or thinking or being; maybe it was the fairly obvious and troubling exploitation of most of the players for the benefit of a very few, and of those very few for the benefit of the institution and alums; maybe it was the viciousness of the whole endeavor, by which I don’t mean the game, but the game around the game–the practices, the motivational manipulations, the injuries, the fawning (and hostility) of the students–all of it; maybe it was maturity; maybe it was the money that I could get selling my tickets.

In any case, the only reason I went to most of the games my Senior year was because I had a job with NBC, working the visitor sideline with the remote camera man. That season, the only game I KNOW I would have gone to is the game against Penn State, and it turned out to be the best college football game I ever saw. My sister went to Penn State for grad school, and we’d long been friends of Joe Pa, the Nittany Lions, and Happy Valley.

And so, though I love to watch football, even as I’ve drifted from watching the college game, I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for Penn State. Until this week.

The college season opened in some controversy, left over from last year and fueled by a compelling take down of the entire endeavor and the NCAA in particular–the hypocrisy and the rest--in an amazing article by Taylor Branch in The Atlantic that argues for paying student-athletes as being a step in the right direction.

And then the awful news about what has happened, and been happening, apparently, at Penn State. There’s plenty to read in many places about it, but the best/worst of it is available in this overview of the entire tragedy by Sara Ganim of the Patriot-News.

So, what do you think, what do you know, what can you prove?