I blogged recently about the rash of football bowl games at this time of year that makes the stomach turn over and the head whirl. Actually, it was a re-blog from last year but the blog seemed timely and I ran it again. In that blog I sought to tie in the absurd number of bowl games with the ridiculous inversion of priorities that has invaded the major universities in this country making education almost incidental.
I have repeatedly gone on about the need to rethink our priorities in education — not only higher education, but all of education. At the lower grades we have placed the child’s sense of self-esteem above the need to know — and by creating a false sense of self-esteem in our kids we have bred a narcissistic sense of entitlement that permeates the culture. In the higher grades we see the colleges fighting over doctrine, territory, and enrollments while the students plan their next party; in the process all are forgetting that education is what it is all supposed to be about.
But the depth of the problem really came home to me when I was reading Sports Illustrated’s annual “Scorecard” in which Ohio State’s third string quarterback, Cardale Jones, was quoted as having tweeted “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” It’s hard to know what to add to this indictment of the education system at that level. It provides graphic evidence of the depth of illusion in the case of at least one of the participants in a football program that was being denied participation in a bowl game by the NCAA. But it also shows how little at least this player regards the importance of the education Ohio State University is supposed to be providing him free of charge. Talk about biting the hand that feeds!
This has been a most interesting year in the arena of major college sports scandals, of course, with the Penn State scandal the most prominent. And that situation just got more interesting as the State of Pennsylvania pledged to take the NCAA to court to have their sanctions overturned. (I’m just happy it’s not my tax money that will pay for that!) But the larger issue is the fact that Penn State and Ohio State are not isolated cases: they just happened to get caught. In major college football and basketball programs across the country the coaches are paid salaries that dwarf those of the college presidents — not to mention the occasional Nobel Prize-winning physics professor. And rules are bent and things like sodomy are allowed to pass unnoticed in order to field a winning team. The message that comes across — and judging from Jones’ tweet it is being received loud and clear — is that education really doesn’t matter: success on the field and the court are what matter, because that success translates into profits. Education at the “higher” levels is big business and the putative students are the victims though they don’t seem to realize it.