My father-in-law, Art Spander is one of the best sportswriters around. Some might say, Art has forgotten more sports than most of us will ever know. This would be true if not for the fact that Art does not forget much. He is a walking sports historian.
It’s all a matter of talent. There’s a kid, runs the 40 in 4.4 and scored 30 touchdowns as a prep. Or maybe he’s 6-9 and averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds. Intellectually, he’s not Albert Einstein. But your rival is chasing him. And as the sports sociologist Harry Edwards points out, “If you don’t get him, they’ll get him and use him against you.”
“Football,” said a man named Elbert Hubbard, “is a sport that bears the same relationship to education that bullfighting does to agriculture.”
Ole! And back at you.
“A school without football,” said Vince Lombardi, “is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.” As if Vince, who went from Fordham to coach in the NFL, knew anything about medieval study halls. Now, blocking and tackling, that was different.
What will happen to USC or to Memphis is probably nothing. USC has been under a cloud for months – Bush has been on the New Orleans Saints since 2006 – and already Memphis is in full denial, insisting it found no proof Rose cheated on the exam. Derrick, of course, joined the NBA as soon as possible.
The people who buy the season tickets are remarkably unmoved by any and all accusations. They don’t care how you win, they just want you to win. And to hell with anyone looking for trouble.
It was in 1976 when Frank Boggs of the Oklahoma City Times, acknowledged to be the best sportswriter in the state, wrote a story that another NCAA investigation of the University of Oklahoma’s football program was under way.
Boggs, merely the messenger, not the cause, was harassed, threatened and had to have police protection. A caller said he would burn down Boggs’ home. Eventually, Boggs moved to Colorado.
Jack Taylor, who shared the byline with Boggs, had done pieces on the Mafia and corruption in government, but said public reaction to the football story was “much more controversial” than anything he ever had written.
People don’t want the truth. They want championships.
Indeed, fans don't much care about the truth, other than when it is needed to justify why a coach should be fired. Coaches and athletic administrators may talk about ethics and following rules, but the entire reward structure of intercollegiate athletics is tied to wins and championships. Certainly not education and "core values." The NCAA and its members supposedly want to truth. But, to paraphrase the famous line from A Few Good Men, "Their pocket books cannot handle the truth."