As I watched one of the many pre-game shows profiling the Penn State vs. Ohio State matchup last Saturday at Happy Valley, I was disturbed by the mean-spirited display of a few members of the Penn State student body. Some of them actually had shirts with the photo of Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor with his head hung low after Penn State defeated Ohio State at home in 2008.
It is okay to show your loyalty to your school. You can boo, even call a few names because that is the spirit of the 12th man but to profile and attempt to kill the spirit of any young man or woman for the sake of a game is uncalled for and unacceptable. For me, and I am only speaking for myself, I became afraid. I had flashbacks of young Black men, heads hung in shame, just prior to being brutalized in days gone by.
There is no room for displays like that in college football or anywhere else. Penn State not only lost the football game a but a piece of its dignity.
Former University of Pittsburgh basketball star Carl Krauser had encountered some difficulties outside of a Strip District nightclub a few years ago after a night out on the town. A disagreement ensued and Krauser was tasered by police and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and other related charges.
The next season, I covered the game between Pitt and Duquesne at the A.J. Palombo Center in Pittsburgh. When Krauser was introduced the student body began to chant taser, taser, and continued to chant and direct this word and other wretched phrases (some too graphic for this old salty dog to write here) at Krauser. Their faces were red with glee. Now this was supposed to be a student body from a Catholic university that generally aspires to create and maintain a higher standard of morals and values.
Krauser, who is a native New Yorker, was and is usually thick-skinned when it comes to normal criticism but I saw through his tough inner city façade on that night. I knew that he was in emotional pain. I could see it in his face.
Now what makes these ill-advised displays of team loyalty ironic is that most of these students would not “bust a grape” if they were forced to compete on the field or on the court. The majority of these video game, play station playing, fantasy football “standouts” are thoroughbred knuckleheads, spineless and heartless, probably not even possessing one cell of athletic ability. Plus, Terrelle Pryor and the rest of young athletes sanctioned to compete in the NCAA are playing for free so that the profits made by the universities as a result of athletic competition may provide better research labs, computers and other amenities for the percentage of students who are non-athletes. If you think that the tuition to attend college is daunting, imagine what the price of admission would be to walk the halls of the academia at the major universities of America without the cash cow of athletics and the guidance of the “farming overseers” from the NCAA.
So the next time any of you zealots want to get low down and dirty when it comes to supporting the home team, think about all of the heads that would be hung down low especially in these perilous economic times without the profits made by nonprofit institutions from the blood, sweat and tears of the young men and women good enough and brave enough to enter and participate in athletic competition.
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On Monday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Denver Broncos 28-10 at Invesco field in Denver. Don’t be fooled by the score, this was more about Pittsburgh being able to make adjustments.
In the first half the Steelers offense amassed just 54 total yards. Their first lead of the game was 7-3 because of a Tyrone Carter interception that he returned for six. But this competition was a statement about who wanted it more. Oh, we heard about how the high altitude was going to weigh heavily against any chance of the Steelers winning. How the absence of defensive backfield starter Ryan Clark was going to be blood in the water for the short passing game of the Broncos against the oxygen deprived defense of Pittsburgh, coupled with the Broncos seeking redemption for the miserable showing at Baltimore last week. When Pittsburgh deferred the opening kickoff, I scratched my head, especially after the Broncos drove down the field and kicked a field goal to begin the game but the Steelers are again appearing as if they one of the teams to beat in the AFC.
Is it possible to have three teams from one division make the playoffs, one as division champion and two as wildcards? Who knows, but I am now checking for the lowest hotel rates in Miami in February.