The love of money ruined sports. Rather than defunding the police, American lawmakers should consider defunding sports and funneling a significant portion of the money generated in sports toward law enforcement and criminal justice reform.
That’s not snark or sarcasm. As a lifelong sports fan, participant and journalist, every day I feel a bit more like Method Man’s hook on the Wu-Tang rap classic C.R.E.A.M.
Cash Ruined Everything Around Me.
Late Thursday night, I read USA Today’s excellent investigative piece on the toxic and abusive culture that cost Texas Tech women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings her job.
The story legitimately made me want to cry. I love sports. I believe in the lessons they teach related to hard work, accountability, responsibility and collaborating with people from different backgrounds.
I don’t believe that Stollings’ behavior is representative of most college coaches. But the abuses described in the USA Today story were not unfamiliar to any seasoned journalist who has covered a rebuilding program. Stollings’ top assistant, Lowry Dawkins, was fired at New Mexico State in 2003 for, among other things, threatening to kill a player and pulling another girl by the hair. Five Texas Tech players accused Stollings’ strength coach, Ralph Petrella, of sexual and verbal harassment.
Excluding the sexual harassment allegations, Stollings’ program sounded a lot like the Kansas football program I covered in the mid-2000s. Mark Mangino turned an awful program into the 2008 Orange Bowl winner before being fired two seasons later for presiding over a toxic and abusive culture.
Were there abusive coaches in college athletics long before coaches earned high six- and seven-figure salaries? No question. Woody Hayes and Bobby Knight come easily to mind.
But the added cash has only added to the pressure and desperation of coaches. The glut of cash has changed the focus of sports. The goal is to build a brand and become a wealthy influencer. The cash has changed players, coaches, scheduling, the bowl system, everything.
Love of the game is secondary to what the game can do for the individuals within it. College football teams now play 14 and 15 games in a single season. That’s the influence of television cash.
In hindsight, the year 2020 might be exactly what the sports world and American culture needed. We’ve elevated athletes to a perch much too high. We’ve elevated celebrities to a perch much too high. The amount of money earned in sports makes us take the participants too seriously and makes many of them take themselves too seriously.
Our societal hierarchy is upside-down. Here’s a Game of Thrones analogy: LeBron James is Ser Gregor Clegane, a mammoth, ferocious warrior who serves Queen Cersei Lannister. We treat LeBron like he’s Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister or Ned Stark.
COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter are helping rational people realize LeBron, Alyssa Milano, Lena Dunham, Steve Kerr, Amy Schumer, Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Paul, CardiB, Meek Mill and Jimmy Kimmel all need to shut up and entertain. They’re not thought leaders. They’re court jesters pretending to be world leaders.
Let’s defund them. Seriously.
I don’t want to eliminate them. I like to be entertained. I just think it’s a huge mistake to pretend CardiB is important. She’s a stripper-turned-rap music-pornographer. She’s Hugh Hefner, not Michelle Obama with a boobjob.
Let’s give entertainers a special designation in our tax codes. Tax their income at 80 to 90 percent. I’m serious. Entertainers embrace Marxism and socialism. Let’s give them the system they prefer.
Let’s take their tax revenue and invest in law enforcement and a criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation. With the extra tax revenue generated from the entertainment industry we could afford to pay and train law enforcement at a higher level. We would attract more qualified police officers. We could take the money from entertainers and dramatically improve how the criminal justice system treats George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks.
I repeat. I’m not being sarcastic.
We can call it the Black Lives Matter Tax Initiative funded by the American movie, television, music and sports industries.
Defund Entertainers! Black Lives Matter!
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