October 16, 2006, - 11:17 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Donna Shalala has a very easy decision to make.
But in the world of professional athletics that parades as American higher education, odds are that she won’t make it. Her hemming and hawing is already echoing loud and clear.
Shalala heads the University of Miami, 13 of whose football players were suspended from their next college football game.
They started and engaged in a violent brawl against Florida International University players, Saturday. The violence included some Miami players literally stomping on those of the opposing team.
This kind of violence shouldn’t be tolerated, whether on the sidelines of a college football game or on the civilian streets of America. Thuggery is thuggery.
But don’t tell that to Shalala. The former Clinton Secretary of Health and Human Services pays lip service to the right slogans. Yet, she’s far from doing the right thing when it comes to the general well-being of her own campus or the well-being of American academia.
According to the Denver Post, Shalala e-mailed the Miami Herald, Saturday night, that “Unsportsmanlike behavior is unacceptable, period, no matter who started it.”
Unacceptable? Unsportsmanlike? Both words are shocking understatements. People could have been killed.
The Miami players? They’re only suspended for one game. Hardly treatment for this degree of violence. Ditto for 18 other players from FIU, but that school–with a lackluster football program–has much less to lose.
“These suspensions send a clear and definitive message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. But it is being tolerated. A zero tolerance policy would result in much more harsh and deserving punishment for such unacceptable behavior.
And the double standard is striking. TV analyst Lamar Thomas, a former Miami and NFL player, was fired for saying that this “whupping” was somehow deserved because FIU players “came into our house.”
He should have been fired. But the players who actually did the “whupping” should be, too. By fired, they should have their scholarships canceled, their season canceled, and their chance to ever play in the NCAA again canceled. And they should be expelled.
Don’t count on anything close to that ever happening. These 31 thugs are money in the bank for Miami. No football season means no money from the unprincipled, lumpen proletariat alumni base that makes up not just the Miami alumni donor pool, but that of every college or university with a major sports program.
These funders of college athletics who allow this violence to go on are more outraged by an 8-4 season than they will ever be over unbridled violence of members of the home team.
Football players will be football players. You take the boys out of the killing fields of America, you can’t take the killing fields of America out of the boys.
Sorry, but we have to expect more. We have the right to expect more.
Tax deductions and tax-free donations to NCAA schools are de facto subsidies from America’s taxpayers. So long as taxpayers finance these college programs, humane behavior must be demanded. We’re not talking the violence of tackles and the pulling of face masks during play. We’re talking benched players who left the bench en masse to go wilding.
It’s not about race either. For every suspended Miami player who is Black, there’s a Ryan Tucker, who is White, and nearly killed a man while he was a football player at Texas Christian University. (The man was read his last rites.)
It’s about college sports run amok, and wannabe pro sports team general managers, like Shalala, who are running major athletic farm systems that have no business being on campus.
Congress recently sent a letter to the NCAA’s Myles Brand asking questions and demanding answers about what taxpayers get in return for the billions in untaxed profits they subsidize for schools like Miami.
And just what do we get from these schools? We don’t get a share in the profits from their multi-billion dollar TV contracts, the way Shalala and her school do. We don’t get to party with corporate execs at bowl games.
All of that is reserved for the thuggish players who start fights and don’t appreciate free rides to colleges to which they’d never be admitted if they couldn’t run and throw the ball.
So will Donna Shalala show us she’s worth the tax deductions we give her and fire her violent players. Or will she coddle them with this slap on a wrist?
If it’s the latter, look for them to revisit this mob violence another day, with more chilling consequences.
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