Thank God Penn State was able to play Saturday! Your author was in desperate need of free entertainment and there is nothing quite so satisfying as watching twenty-year-old student-as-customer athletes, in the words of Andrew Dickson White, “agitate a bag of wind.”
And what a game! 107,903 people crowded into Beaver Stadium to watch a group of twenty-two kids slug it out on the gridiron. The AP found a Penn State fan who was ecstatic:
“It’s therapy,” Dave Young, a lifelong Penn State fan, said before the game. “I love Penn State football, always will love Penn State football. Tough week, cried in my office a couple times when I had moments to myself.
“But now it’s time to release and watch the football game and enjoy it.”
You said it, Dave. Release it is. Whenever I even consider that the mighty Penn State may have had to miss a game—a football game!—I shiver and, yes, I weep, too. But let us fall on our knees and thank the dear Lord that this calamity did not occur and that Nike, Adidas, and the other sponsors who provided wind breakers and socks to the coaches of the two teams—for a substantial consideration—still had ample opportunity to showcase their products.
That hundred-thousand-plus number of attendees is important. As George Will (who also provided Cornell’s A.D. White quote) reminds us, it is the number of fans that television networks use to gauge the success of a school. The more fans, the more the networks want to sign the team—I mean school. And then the more moola that flows into the team’s—I mean school’s—coffers.
Sure, most of the money that is taken in has to be sent right back out in the form of multi-million dollar paychecks to the head coaches, and hundreds of thousands, even millions more, for the salaries of assistant coaches. More great wads of cash go to assistants to the assistants, to Deans to watch over it all, to groundskeepers and peanut vendors.
And then there’s the money for field, stadium, athletic buildings, and equipment maintenance. Oh, right, and the monies, paltry really, towards the scholarships (paid in lieu of salaries) of the amateur players themselves so that they can take majors in such rigorous fields like Sports Management, Business, and Communications. The broken bones and torn hamstrings are well worth the trouble these kids put themselves through, considering the greater glory of the Alma Mater and the increase in knowledge in Sports Management.
The band gets a few bucks slid their way, as do the cheerleaders, those lovely creatures the TV cameras always manage to find time for. In fact, it’s good to mention cheerleaders because I have long suggested my own school make greater use of these skirted athletes.
The school can cash in on them just as they do the football squad. I suggest wealthy alumni be allowed to schedule private viewings with the cheerleaders of their choice. Lock donor and athlete in a room and let the donor really put the cheerleader through her paces. Talk about an increase in school spirit! The school and the girl would split the tips.
And these sessions could be filmed, just as the games are, and sold to certain cable affiliates. We’re talking real money here and that is what is most important, which is in complete agreement with those who argue for the status quo in football.
Now, I know this is a sensitive time to bring up football, given the horrible events that occurred in the Penn State locker rooms. A lot of folks just can’t get it out of their minds that, for example, assistant coach Mike McQueary came across child rapist Jerry Sandusky buggering a ten-year-old in the shower and that he failed to call the police and instead called coach Joe Paterno, who then told school administrators who themselves thought it was best to keep quiet about the matter, except to tell the local District Attorney who has suddenly gone missing (with his computer which contained sensitive evidence). What many commentators fail to remember is that Penn State had a big game coming up the next week. Starting some big “do” at that moment could have hurt the team’s chances at a national championship—a national championship for goodness sake!
Some even argue, given what happened, that less of an emphasis should be paid to sports and more to academics. But this is just wrong, because it forgets how important entertainment is to our great nation. Take football away from college and what do you have? Nothing but classrooms, libraries, and students with their noses buried in books. And who wants that?