The most sordid scandal in the history of collegiate sports resulted today in the NCAA imposing sanctions for the crimes of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, and the documented long-time cover-up by University officials. The late head coach Joe Paterno went, in less than a year, from being one of the all-time most respected coaches in collegiate athletics to one of the least respected.
I was staying at the Nittany Lion Inn in 1997 and recall Coach Paterno and entourage coming through the lobby. Paterno took the time to stop and chat with well wishers. He even wrote a note to a Nittany Lion Inn employee’s aunt, who was ill. Stories like these were long associated with Paterno and he had a reputation for running an academically honest football program. Very sad, indeed, that this reputation is erased.
The NCAA has evidently had enough of the shenanigans in big-time collegiate football and basketball. While nothing remotely compares with the child abuse and cover-up that went on at Penn State, the NCAA has fired a warning shot to other schools. The Penn State tragedy may be the tipping point that serves to clean up the mess that is top-level collegiate football and basketball, where many student-athletes are that in name only. Currently, as long as the coach wins, his sins are overlooked by university boards of trustees and presidents and alumni. Penn State’s football program had gross revenues of $60 million in 2012 and that kind of money usually trumps ethical considerations. (The fine levied against Penn State by the NCAA is $60 million and that is to go to combat child abuse.)
On a much larger and far more important scale than collegiate sports, world society has also reached a tipping point in terms of self control and fiscal responsibility. The governments of Greece, Spain, Italy, the United States, et al. have incurred so much debt–and overpromised so much to so many people—that something significant has to be done now to control spending, if the future is to be preserved for generations to come.
The problems in horse racing are inconsequential when contrasted with those plaguing the rest of the world, but if you happen to be involved in the sport they are very consequential. Racing is also at a tipping point: the public will no longer tolerate an industry in which rogue trainers repeatedly drug their horses; racing jurisdictions give slaps on the wrist to rules violators; owners ship or sell their horses to slaughter; and owners and trainers send out horses with severe physical issues to race, thereby enabling breakdowns and jockey injuries.
A tipping point can go either way, for better or worse. In the case of the U. S. government, collegiate athletics, and horse racing, the future is in the hands of the people involved. The constituents of all of these must demand better…or suffer the consequences.
Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business