Odds and ends.
I’ve been talking a lot about sports lately, and I’m sorry about that. They’ve been on my mind, I guess, because there have been so many stories (Sandusky scandal, Fine scandal) that involve sports, but are not necessarily about sports; they’re about horrific crimes that are made no more horrific by their association with games; these are stories that have been leading the nightly news, stories so toxic that ESPN anchors get visibly uncomfortable talking about them, as it’s not their meat-and-potatoes brand of “huge hit here, droppin’ dimes there.” (You can always tell when “Sportscenter” personalities get uncomfortable with talking about realer or more devastating stories. It’s always right before a commercial, and the bass-line that accompanies the “coming right up after the commercial break…” montage is neutered.)
All of these terrible crimes, however, have opened the floodgates for a weird and unsettling and kind of insensitive commentary from decidedly non-sporting folks. Katha Pollitt’s charged “Penn State’s Patriarchal Pastimes” (for The Nation) sticks out foremost, as it was a rather on-the-nose piece about how college athletics should be abolished. Erecting a bridge between university officials covering up child rape and the abolition of college athletics is a little like tying Chandra Levy’s murder to the immoral state of the Democratic Party; that is to say: not liking sports and then using unspeakable tragedies as a means of getting rid of what you don’t like is a brand of demagoguery usually reserved for right-wing talk radio hosts. Continue reading