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Does the Oklahoma State Scandal Surprise Anyone?

Oklahoma State mascotFor those of you that have been off Twitter or the internet lately, you’ve probably missed the big story of the last few days in that Oklahoma State has apparently been paying players, sexing up potential recruits, allowing uninhibited drug use, and letting people no-show for easy As and such in class. You know, just your normal run of the mill college athletics story. Before you go further and read how I think this entire thing has met with a shocking amount of apathy, you’re probably going to want to read the Sports Illustrated piece here.

It’s both shocking and not, in that a large majority of football fans are giving a collective “Meh…” sort of response. Some have written it off as former players and/or journalists with an axe to grind simply giving the Cowboys their come-uppance in the pages (web and otherwise) of a sports magazine. Some others have met this “bombshell” with a lack of surprise and perhaps a sense of expectation that when enough rocks are kicked over within any major athletic program, sooner or later, some things are going to come scurrying out from underneath them. Perhaps the scandals at SMU, Miami, and Penn State have desensitized all of us to what constitutes the “head for the hills” end of days meteor of a scandal. I’d say if a salacious story about sex, drugs, and hundred dollar handshakes doesn’t get the collective fanbase of college athletics in a tizzy then it may be time to just detonate the whole damn thing and start over.

The cash payments? I can deal with those. Perhaps that’s because I’m largely in favor of giving some sort of compensation to the athletes that pump billions of dollars into the collegiate athletics environment through their effort, injuries, and labor. Granted, it’s against the rules as they are written now, and that’s a shame. But let’s not forget all of us break laws on a daily basis when we find them to be baseless, useless, or completely against what we believe. Roads that I think are completely safe, I speed down. Times I hop in the car to grab a Diet Coke from McDonalds (the best Diet Cokes on the planet) I may not even throw on my seatbelt because it’s just down the road. My point with both those examples are they are decisions that fly in the face of what the “law of the land” or those that make it tell me is right and correct. Some people may find the drug laws of America foolish, and thus, they’re prone to Sponge Bob marathons and killer bong rips. The point is everyone has a sliding scale of where they are comfortable based on what they believe to be truly right with a sprinkling of what they can get away with.

The same goes for football. I subscribe to the theory that it’s a Mendoza Line of crimes and punishment where the payoff has to justify the risk. And guess what boys and girls: As the payoff (both monetarily and otherwise) skyrockets with a new playoff system and such do you think the number of schools attempting to skirt the rules (or outright shatter them) to get their piece of the pie is going to decrease or increase? Exactly.

The feel good sexy time allegations? Zero problem with those, assuming Les Miles or whomever else championed this female staff of hostesses wasn’t walking around demonstrating the strength of his pimphand or wearing large fur coats. Could it be that young female students who spend time around elite level athletes in prime physical shape and full of confidence and swagger just like a good old fashioned romp in the sheets from time to time? After living for nearly a decade in the DC metro area, sometimes it really is easy to just say who you work for and watch the potential suitors line up. I can only imagine the experience is similar when you bust out your Scout or Rivals rankings and reveal your six-pack abs. Same goes for the drug allegations. Welcome to normal college student behavior, athlete or otherwise.

The drugs, sex, and money will draw people in and they’ll get the headlines, tweets, and commentary. Because those things are saucy and racy, and the same society that made a national bestseller out of some older woman being handcuffed to her bed posts takes far more interest in those behind closed doors sorts of things because that’s the easy thing to point to and say, “Sports has gotten out of control. STOP WITH THE SPORTS. BURN THEM ALL AT THE STAKE.” That would be a foolish thing to draw from the payouts, hook ups, and reefer, because it’s skipping over the fact that the same education that most use to justify young men flinging their bodies into one another with very little regard for theirs or their target’s is what is being shot to hell because of big time athletics.

Players not going to class and still making As? Players majoring in things that have no real requirements and/or expectations? Tutors writing players’ papers or assignments? All those things have went on other places and probably went on here, but that’s not what anyone will worry about, largely because no one gives a good God damn about anything even remotely resembling academic pursuits of their athletes. Why was Myron Rolle featured so often on College Gameday? Was it because his achievements in the classroom were so notable and honor worthy that they felt the need to mention he was a potential Rhodes Scholar on every broadcast?  Or was it because most of the time, people who watch the games care very little about a player’s academic pursuits at all.

And that’s the real sad thing about all of this. If we’ve gotten to a state as a fanbase where things like academic integrity and academic fraud don’t even register on the Richter scale of fan outrage, then we need to figure out what the hell we are doing as a collective entity of college football playing institutions. Either the players that entertain us are student-athletes or they aren’t. If they’re student-athletes then the first little identifier in their classification means that that’s the priority and the hammer should be dropped on Oklahoma State. If it isn’t, then I’ll just assume they aren’t student-athletes at all and are more athlete-students. And thus, paid. Either way the system improves. But all this wrist-slapping and non-punishment punishments have led us to this place… where the real issues are overshadowed by TMZ-worthy scandals. I can’t say I blame those in power… the flashy issues are much easier to ignore and allow the flawed ridiculous system to carry on unimpeded.

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