I grew up a sports fan in a sports family. My dad is a baseball coaching savant and has a smooth jump shot on the hard court. Despite growing up before the feminist fight for women's sports, my mom was a speed skater. We watched sports as a family. We did not really pay attention to how the sports sausage was made. Easier to hide the rot even twenty years ago, but the quality of athletes seems to have tracked with the general problem of technology masking social decay. Training, media management and steroids cover for psychotic rapists and criminals roaming the field. The NCAA celebrated national signing day in early February. That is when sports media writers and scouts evaluate the recruiting classes of teenagers for college football programs with puddles of drool forming on their keyboards. Just a couple of weeks after this year's signing day, a nationally ranked football recruit was arrested for felony sex charges. The sports media complex is not using this as a way to discuss the greater issue of the NCAA system being a sick system of corruption and exploitation to earn tax free money to universities.
It is a bizarre case. Shareif Rhaheed-Muhammad is a three star recruit and was arrested for felony charges involving sexual contact with his cousin that allegedly started when the cousin was just eleven. His scholarship offer is still valid. The child conceived from the sexual contact was aborted. DNA testing shows a likelihood above 99% that the child is the athlete's. The athlete's lawyer cited the university as waiting for the judicial system to work its way through the case before making a decision on his scholarship. Are they waiting for a booster to cough up the money to get the girl's parents to drop the charges? I can just see Coach Bobby Petrino looking through the online database for a wealthy booster who needs an ego boost for saving the program's recruit. Booster could even meet the young man he'd be helping come next season.
Molestation or rape. Incest. Prized recruit. This would be a pretty good story to spotlight on ESPN for the dysfunction of modern athletes and Petrino leaving the scholarship offer on the table could be framed as the rot and corruption of the NCAA. ESPN cannot do it because they have so many deals with the NCAA for broadcasting games, compromising their stance as a sports reporting entity but not a sports entertainment provider. Maybe Yahoo Sports could run an expose. The recruit was praised highly by Rivals scouting, garnering a three star label. He was recruited by major programs and signed with Louisville. Nothing about his personality tip anyone off to his other behavior? These coaches talk about knowing kids so deeply when they recruit and later, foster them through their programs. Tackling this would allow the media to explain how it comes down to "can you play" and nothing else. The media takes shots at the ridiculous rules of the NCAA with regards to players or the high salaries of coaches, but oddly enough, player misbehavior gets little attention.
To paraphrase Matthew Modine in And the Band Played On:
"How many raped college girls do you need? How many crimes on campus? How many rapes must be reported to make it cost efficient for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won't annoy you again until the amount of money you begin spending on lawsuits make it more profitable for you to recruit with an eye on crime and not just their 40 time."
This recruit is not the only instance nor the most ridiculous of examples. It is just the reported case for this Winter. A few years ago, Chris Carter signed with Ohio State University for football at the same time that he was arrested for fondling fourteen and fifteen year old girls in dark rooms at his school. The police had a notebook of Carter's in their possession which listed the girls and corresponded with who complained. It's only a 300+ pound 6 foot 4, 17 year old fondling younger, smaller girls in dark rooms, right? Nothing to worry about from a character standpoint. Ohio State kept his scholarship offer on the table. Charges were dropped. He plays for them now. Hopefully, Carter has not raped anyone since arriving in Columbus. Entire books have been written about these criminals and predators... and the institutions that coddle and enable them. Scoreboard, Baby might be in Amazon's top #100 list for football book sales, but tell me when a major media outlet has ever mentioned it?
Few who matter care though, and even with fans, many do not care. Checking out a University of Louisville sports fan website, the reactions are split into three camps. There is the camp that does not want Rhaheed-Muhammad to enroll at Louisville. There is the camp that wants to forgive him of this mistake (mistakes: breaking windows, stealing candy, molests 11 year old cousin). That is not a mistake. That's a deleted scene from Flowers in the Attic. There is also a large contingent of commenters who type (to paraphrase), "This is the system, who cares" or "I was 17 banging 14 year olds". Forget standards! Everyone does it. Notre Dame kept the identity of a player accused of raping a girl who later killed herself a secret until he revealed it this year at the NFL Combine. I'm sure the Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of rape would have gladly paid for the same identity protection from Duke. I also do not recall fans giving them a defense of any kind on website. Pro tip: play for revenue generating college teams to get cover from idiot fans. Regardless of the institution of Duke University or Louisville fans, the national media is awfully silent on a case that could be a teachable moment on the high rates of sexual abuse in the black community.
That last bit touches at something deeper in the system. The media cannot investigate deeper on these crimes, which has an overrepresentation of black offenders. The media selects the news items to blow up by seeing if they fit their agenda. They are also compromised from wanting to change the system. The media makes big bucks on sports along with the NCAA. Sports programming will eventually be the last television programming that can say viewers watch live and will see the paid advertisements. Think about the media's choice of attack on the NCAA system. Player pay is just slicing away a small scrap of the money. Coaches getting paid "insane" salaries is just an argument about splitting the spoils. Nick Saban's annual salary is a great investment to get the BCS bowl payouts that he has earned the school. The media will not touch the product. The system simply believes faster, bigger and more like the NFL is what gets viewers and sells tickets. Don't touch the money printing machine, no matter how lowly the program. This is our circus. These are our gladiator games. Roman society probably had citizens who hated the coliseum, but they had enough citizens who wanted to see the blood sport, feel a thrill and shout for more. It's not murder in a coliseum but crime on campus. The games are different but the feelings are the same.