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Thursday, April 01, 2004

FUMBLING THE POLITICALLY CORRECT FOOTBALL 

Former Notre Dame and Green Bay Packer football star Paul Hornung is being chastised for remarking that his alma mater should lower its academic standards to attract more talented black athletes to the program. Hornung is being prtrayed as insensitive, racist, ignorant, etc. Just go to the "Clichés for Politically Incorrect Behavior" and pullout any adjective for non-approved behavior and it's being applied to Hornung. Some writers such as William Rhoden of the NY Times have taken an even handed and thoughtful examination of the mumblings of one more ex-jock who shoots from the lip. Others have reverted to the predictable righteous indignation and faux shock that accompanies mediocre analysis and substitute’s raw emotion for thinking.

Rhoden's commentary has its points. Notre Dame has a recruiting problem, period. And lowering academic standards for blacks isn't going to solve that problem. But an excoriation of Hornung based his suggestion that black athletes should be offered a break on standards for admission fails to consider two existing realities. One, many athletes, even those at the elite colleges playing Division I-A football (Stanford, ND, Duke, Boston College) are provided a break on their entrance requirements. A coveted running back will make into the school with less sparkling academic credentials than a not as coveted future English major. All of these schools provide for this type of discrimination and since football is often the principle money maker for the entire athletic program, this is accepted as the cost of doing business. The more competitive the program, the greater the revenue stream; the greater the revenue stream, the more money to finance non-revenue generating sports and activities e.g. track, swimming, field hockey, etc.

Second, colleges already have set aside programs with lower academic standards designed to encourage and facilitate matriculation on the part of blacks and other minorites who might not meet established entrance qualifications. It is called affirmative action and it has been in place for decades. So why the hue and cry over Hornung?

In effect, Hornung didn't say anything particularly controversial or earth shattering in light of existing programs. He just asked Notre Dame to consider an even lower bar for admission when it comes to black athletes.

Where Hornung is wrong is in his belief that diminished standards of any kind will benefit the football program or the myopic egos of alumni.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

IT'S TUESDAY 

SORRY TO SEE Alistair Cooke and Peter Ustinov have skipped town for the last time; anyone in search for erudition, urbanity, charm and general excellence in human form can pretty much fold their tent and head back home. Bring out the cliches and sprinkle liberally but these two were sui generis and thus we shouldn't expect replications of their performances in our lifetimes.



WITH THE FINAL Four in men's basketball set for this weekend I don't see a Vegas line on which team will end up with the fewest graduates in four years. Something tells me Duke pretty much spoils that paramutual. Bonus betting should allow you to place a wager on the individual player who will first grace a police line-up after the NCAA and his school has exploited him for all the cash they can then tells him sayonara, back to the streets from whence you came!!!


THE NCAA, which insists I can't buy a kid a hamburger if he is on scholarship, last year decided to use synthetic basketballs inplace of leather ones for their Championship Tournament. Some people implied that it was in response to the whack jobs at PETA, others say it was a cost -cutting measure. No matter what, it's good to know the NCAA is willing to make changes when it comes to cattle than when it involves the welfare of the humans who are responsible for the billions it reaps from collegiate sports.


ONLY SEVEN MORE months to go of Kerry pretending to be a tough guy and Bush pretending to have a clue. I wonder if Al-Queda understands that you can't terrorize a democracy any more than with a protracted presidential race between two guys who couldn't inspire anything beyond apathy and apprehension.


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