On Saturday, October 18, my college Alma Mater, West Virginia University, sent its hired football guns out to play against the hired guns of Baylor University.
The latter was then ranked as the fourth best team in the country, a ranking achieved by…yes, beating all the other teams on its schedule prior to Saturday…but mainly by dint of publicity that exploits the inexplicable interest in what amounts to blatant immoral activity condoned by craven university presidents, played out on the athletic field led by coaches and other personnel allegedly with the best interests of the football players at heart.
They call them student-athletes but that is a misnomer, intentionally so.The players are recruited after success playing the game during their high school careers. Now just how kids in high school have “careers” is a puzzle to me. Most of these players have no realistic expectations of playing at the professional level, and even fewer will, in fact, ever see the inside of an NFL stadium without buying a ticket. But somehow their coaches..and probably their family and friends and fans back home…feed them the notion that perhaps, just maybe, could be, that they will do well enough to “go to the next level”, to play on SUNDAY (or Monday, or Thursday, or Saturday, or any other day that suits the TV monster which finances all this).
But back to our game in Morgantown, West By God Virginia. The Mountaineers defeated the Bears (and in this state that happens during the appropriate hunting season all the time) and the normal joy attendant to such activities when you are on the winning side, mushroomed, snowballed, escalated, exploded into a night of violence and fires and pepper spray and tear gas and foul language and probably even some hair pulling and beer can littering. (Just a feeling I have about the last item.)
Today on Facebook a friend posted a story about the rioting. It’s intent was to show how a bunch of white folks could exhibit such destructive behavior without drawing a peep from FOX News (like the pumpkin riots in Keene, N.H.a few days prior) but if three blacks broke windows in Ferguson, Missouri during demonstrations regarding the Michael Brown shooting, FOX would have been all over the story.
I don’t disagree but that argument, if any, is for another time and place. To me this serves as an example of another aspect of big time college sports being thoroughly corrupt. Fan behavior manifests itself in various ways in support of this immorality. In Morgantown for nearly forty years it far too often has taken this form, though usually to a lesser extent.
This took place just blocks from where I live. I’m surprised some didn’t occur out my window because my senior high rise is only two blocks from campus and the back of the building (including my window) overlooks a student residential neighborhood.
In years past I would have been celebrating such a victory, albeit without the lawlessness. I watched part of the game just so I would know when it was over as I was meeting friends downtown afterwards. I’ll admit a part of me had a twinge of satisfaction at the win. After all,over forty years of rabid fandom isn’t fully erased from four plus years of disgust at the whole enterprise and eschewing any pretense of rooting for “my team”.
I used to delude myself that WVU was somehow above the fray, better than, morally superior to other schools frequently caught up in recruiting and other scandals. That is not now and never was true.
However, this manifestation of malfeasance in the pursuit of athletic glory…actually more in the pursuit of identifying with athletic glory while having exactly zero influence on the outcome…is different only in kind and in the casting of participants in this episode.
This long running anthology series manages to supply original programming or innovative takes on old programs on a nearly weekly basis and draws high TV ratings in the process, even in the months when no games are scheduled.
I have stopped watching except in limited circumstances as explained above. But I am admittedly a fan of cable’s Investigation Discovery, a true crime show. Do you think that network could add college football to its repertoire as a spinoff?