Mar 272015
 
post consumer man

Jerome Grapel

by Jerome Grapel…

With the NCAA basketball tournament — “March Madness” — in full swing, this essay becomes timely. Using the abuse of young boys by an iconic football coach at Penn State University, Jerry Sandusky, as a vehicle, it gives voice to my outrage at the “Big Lie” the collegiate sports industry is.

As I write on November 12, 2011, the minimalist quality of this essay’s title is more than enough to convey its subject matter. If you are not aware of the recent events at Penn State University, I suggest you crawl back under your rock in the Gobi Desert and resume whatever function your bodily presence in the eco-system fulfills. Perhaps there are some ants out there ready to eat you, so run along and carry on. As for the rest of you, listen up:

     Although the events in question are not related, Penn State has undergone a catharsis similar to what happened at Virginia Tech University when one of its students went on a murderous rampage that killed more than 30 innocent people (see essay, “Virginia Tech”). In each case, a cataclysmic event has changed the university forever, giving it an identity or new “persona” it had not been associated with before. It is now the year 1 AS at Penn State University, meaning “After Sodomy”.

   I am not here to tell you who is guilty, innocent, more guilty, less innocent, whose head should roll, whose legacy has become what, or how the university should proceed into the future. All you have to do is turn on your TV-radio-computer-huckleberry-blueberry-Ipod-pad-notebook-twittering-facebook device, at any moment in time, to get all the information you could possibly digest on this subject from people much closer to its essence than I am. I would not be writing this essay unless I could come at it from an angle nobody else is touching upon.

     There is a guilty party here that is getting off unscathed. It is an entity that is not criminally responsible, but has played a substantial role in creating the conditions which led so many people to turn their heads and allow such an unspeakable thing to happen not just once, but repetitively. Down through the years, I’ve taken to calling this entity “Big Media” in these essays.

     Big Media is most responsible for making top tier collegiate athletics, primarily football and basketball, into the multi-billion dollar cash cow it has become. They are the driving force behind this industry (for more, see essay “Mikey’s Canine Adventure”). Much more than the universities themselves, they call the shots, create the ambiance, manipulate the scheduling, the calendar, the events, the competitive format and dictate what is necessary to make this a rotund business for their coffers. Obviously, there must be some collusion with the universities, but Big Media is the chest pounding gorilla in the room. Its needs must be met if the collegiate sports industry is to thrive, if everyone is to get their slice of the pizza. Make no mistake about it — Big Media gets the biggest slice of all and the 80 million dollars Penn State allegedly makes from its football program is an appetizer compared to it.

     When somebody says Penn State football or Joe Paterno is Penn State, that is just a myth created by Big Media’s rapacious need to make collegiate football the uber rentable business it is. Penn State or any other athletic factory across this land, in case you’ve forgotten, is a seat of higher education. If Penn State ceased to exist, there’d be no football team. But the reverse is not true — Penn State could do away with football this very moment and the university would go on with its primary task of educating young men and women (though judging from the behavior of its student body, one has to wonder how well they are doing that). The loss of revenue or public relations value a university’s athletic program generates is not a fundamental element for its existence — and if it is, that university should not exist. But for Big Media, the income generated by collegiate sports is primordial, and they are the ones most responsible for making it financially healthy and growth oriented.

     Let me give you some recent examples of how Big Media constructs this industry.

     In the last decade or so, another tier of basketball competition, known as “Championship Week”, has been added to the agenda, meaning each conference plays a one and out tournament to decide its automatic representative in the mega-money of the NCAA tournament. From an athletic standpoint, this makes less sense than pulling on Superman’s cape. If you have a ten team conference where all the teams play each other home and away, you’ve already played 18 games against the same competition for something like 3 months in a true blue search for who is the best, worst, and everything in between. Nothing could better shake out the quality of the teams than that — but Big Media comes along and says to the schools, hey, we’ll give you this nice sum of money if you’ll have a “championship” tournament at such and such time and place, so we can put it on TV. And the collegiate whores take the money and play an unnecessary competition in a neutral arena filled with empty seats watching anonymous teams the average citizen never knew existed before. Why? So Big Media can sell some advertising on a telecast it knows enough people in a nation of 310 million inhabitants will watch so it can be a profitable endeavor.

     A similar thing can be seen in collegiate football, where almost all the games are played on Saturday. But that is not enough for Big Media. You can now watch a televised college football game almost every night of the week, usually played by 2 of those who? schools in a venue that looks like a high school field on steroids with enough wide open spaces in the grandstand to graze goats on. If you think the schools themselves came up with this idea, you are probably still fooled by guys in drag.

     And that is not even mentioning the uncountable bowl games created for mediocre teams catering to some lunch bucket guy as he gets tired enough to fall asleep before the next work day.

     If these kinds of things are a complete fabrication of Big Media, even the decisions left to the universities will find its final arbiter in Big Media. Whether it be a playoff in football, adding more teams to the NCAA tournament, or whatever, nothing will be done without Big Media saying, yeah, we can do it like that, or, hey, we need it to be like this, or no, not like that, if you want the big money from us it has to be like this.

     Big Media is where the real money is. Big Media is the sugar daddy of big time collegiate sports.

     A financial enterprise of such huge dimensions has just about done away with the romantic notion of “student athletes”. In order for televised sports to be successful, 2 conditions must exist: 1) The athletes must be good enough to watch and 2) the teams must be competitive, all of them, from top to bottom. If hundreds of schools are to meet these requirements, the pool of athletic talent must grow with it. This athletic talent does exist, but not in the form of college ready students. Any university competing for the spoils of this profitable industry cannot overlook athletic talent that is not student talent. If you do, you’ll soon be out of the game.

     Regardless of the alleged integrity of the Penn State football program under Joe Paterno (and I’d guess it is not much different from most of the athletic factories amongst our universities), it is a prime player in a lucrative farce that presents itself as something it isn’t. Whether Penn State is less or more sincere than its opponents with its athletic program is not that relevant. They are all willing participants in an industry based on fallacious assumptions, an industry that is now “too big to fail”.

     Certainly, Big Media is not responsible for the intellectual quality of the “student-athlete”, or for how the educational institutions participating in this whole fandango go about stocking their teams. Nor are they responsible for Jerry Sandusky and his “fondness” for young boys. Big Media was not an accessory to any cover up. Big Media feeds and survives on only 2 things: 1) Money and 2) more money.

     But they’ve created this Frankenstein nobody at Penn State wanted to damage. My God, one of our iconic coaches sodomizing young boys! Just shut up, we’ll take care of it, it’ll all blow over and Penn State football and “Joe Pa” and that wonderful nittany lion logo will not be tarnished. We cannot let that happen, there’s too much at stake.

     So now Big Media self righteously sits and pontificates about this whole sordid affair. But the cover up would not have happened without their fundamental role in creating a morally vapid system. They could care less how much student is left in the athlete, as long as their money tree keeps producing fruit. And it does. The collegiate athletics money tree has turned into a grove of money trees, something so lucrative that a pederast was allowed to operate for decades, knowingly, so that the grove could stay at its optimal health.

     Big Media must take some responsibility for all this.

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Jerome Grapel
Jerome Grapel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1945 and raised in the New York City area in what could be called a vintage middle class upbringing. He attended Temple University in Philadelphia where he played baseball and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1967. With a "noticeable lack of vocation for anything, and not knowing what else to do," he continued at Temple Law School, graduating in 1970.
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More articles by Post Consumer Man prior to November, 2014.
 March 27, 2015  Posted by at 3:45 am Essays from Post Consumer Man, Issue #107  Add comments

  19 Responses to “Penn State”

  1. Yes indeed really insightful. In my work on state torture
    systems, such as the US has, I call the media
    “Facilitators” in torture. You have convincingly
    added ‘big media’ to university complicity–silence
    and secrecy–in abuse of players, who are also
    raped by big media. Thanks for this, Martha

  2. Yes, this is an original slant, and sadly persuasive.

    An example of how media changes one of the sweetest parts of football games is the halftime band. It is a big part of the live game. Music, showmanship, a mild competition between the two bands that does not involve getting anyone hurt. A great, longstanding tradition.

    But Big Media ignores it. We’re lucky to watch a couple minutes. They would rather put on their self-glorifying, pontificating “personalities” that replay the bone-crunching hits and star-turn big plays.

    • Rick, As always, thanks for the comment. As for marching bands, I always liked them too. Being that they are an expensive investment for a school, one has to wonder how long they will continue to exist. Their exposure on TV was always the main part of their celebrity and their impact on their schools. With Big Media not considering them a rentable part of their business model — could they be whooping cranes? What’s really sad about this is that marching bands of this nature are a purely American art form. Thanks again, Jerome

  3. Martha, First off, having read your contributions to this publication, I am honored by your attention to my stuff. You mention Big Media’s addition to university complicity, but really, it should be stated the other way around. The university’s have been added to media complicity. I sometimes have to laugh when media makes the boogeyman of collegiate sports the NCAA. But one should ask themselves — where does the money the NCAA enriches itself with come from? It comes from Big Media. The universities and the NCAA, although hypocritical participants in all of this, are small potatoes compared to media interests. Thanks again, Jerome

  4. And what’s missing in all this unique approach of journalism from Big Media to small, such as this, is that CHILDREN ARE BEING RAPED AND TORTURED all over this world. Where do you people come from?

  5. Jerome,

    Great stuff…

    I was ambling along the bar and club ridden beach tonight, you know the lounges with the live bands and 25 TV sets, all happening at the same time. One thing they all had in common; each establishment had the same thing on everyone of its TV screens, a March Madness basketball event.

    The economic principle of supply and demand has a lot to do with the acquisition of money. People will pay for what they want. Their purchasing power is a force to be reckoned with.

    The Mayweather // Pacquiao fight is projected to draw nearly 300 Million Dollars, just for the contestants. The people are getting what they want.

    Blessings & Respect

  6. John, As always, it is an honor to have you read my stuff. Of course, all of this has to do with the market, but what I object to here is that collegiate sport is a BIG LIE. I have no quarrel with Pacquiao and other forms of pro sports making their money as they do. There is no LIE involved. But this idea of “student-athletes”, etc., is nonsense. They are tapping into a set of concocted loyalties that make this a gigantic business. If these young athletes signed professional contracts right out of high school and started playing in minor league systems until they were shown to be good enough or not for the big time, there would not be such a lucrative business model. But the Big Lie of college sports is a gold mine, based on a farcical idea that these athletes are really students. I like to put it like this: what we have in collegiate sport is fake students playing professional sports without getting paid so media interests can make billions off it. It also lets the NFL and NBA off the hook for trainig these athletes. Thanks John

    • I agree with every word you just said Mr. Grapel….

      then again, this is March Madness, one of my favorite times of the year, and one of my alma maters, MICHIGAN STATE, is about to play for the Final Four. So please forgiver me for succumbing to the BIG LIE for just a little while longer and suspending my intellectual acuity to be just another rabid, out-of-control alum proud of his team and school.

  7. Jerome,

    At least these students are on an appropriate OJT placement.. Honing their craft for a potential promising career. They trade their skills and revenue generating capacities, for exposure to an education and preparedness for potential riches.

    A lot of our students K thru 12 languish in neglect and despair. Many college students go to school to seek mates, kill time, party; while pretending to accomplish something.

    At least these college athletes are involved pro-actively with life.

    Another insightful and clear acknowledgment of phenomena within our culture.

    Blessings & Respect

    • John, It is rare for me to have to discrep with you to such an extent, but your answer shows a level of naivety that is shared by much of America. Most of these athletes, especially in the most important 100 or so athletic factories masquerading as a place to educate these young men, have precious little of the campus environment rub off on them. They are there to play their sport, enrich whoever is getting enriched by all this, to provide a springboard for themselves to the kind of professionalism where they actually get paid (and very few of them actually get there), and little else. The Michael Vick dog fighting episode is a perfect example of how little the university rubbed off on him … and nobody there cared. A much better course of action for them would be to be contracted out of high school to go play at a corresponding professional level where they could immediately start earning money, working at their craft without ambiguity, and start living like adults in the real world, where their education would be far more genuine and worthwhile. Don’t be fooled by all this John, it is almost pure bull, manufactured by Big Media for their own benefit.

  8. Keysbum, Good to hear from you, but I, a genuine American jock who played Division I baseball at Temple University, do not share your feelings. There was a time when I did, when I loved this tournament to the max, but my insights into what has become of all this has put an end to all that. I sometimes amaze myself by not paying the least bit of attention to all this. I simply cannot create the fictions necessary to make me a fan of it any longer, and, in truth, I am proud of it. Thanks again, PCM

    • as mentioned Mr. Grapel, you will not find a counter argument from me on all that you espoused. the NCAA is as criminal and corrupt an organization as there exists, and the schools and media conglomerates are as exploitative as they come. coaches earning millions is an obscenity, students shut out from attending their own athletic events is an abomination, and the “student-athlete” is practically an oxymoron.

      i have degrees from three of the biggest athletic factories out there: MSU, Michigan, and Florida. I also began college at UCLA during the Walton years. i have been exposed to big time college athletics for a long time. i would love to see major changes. would i like to see real students populating the teams? absolutely. would i like to see that every current student who wants to attend an athletic event free of charge be given priority above alumni and all others? absolutely. would i like to see coaches who are real teachers actually interested in their kids and not their shoe contract? absolutely. would i like to see the pro leagues have their own minor leagues and not use the schools? absolutely. but in the meantime, these kids are getting an opportunity that would otherwise not be available to them. however minimal their exposure, whatever the mercenary nature of their existence on campus, they are getting a chance at something that would otherwise be unavailable. whatever experience they receive to the “benefits” of college, it is more than they had prior.

      again, i a agree with all that you said (except boxing being legit). i am just not as militant as you. i still identify with the kids who are representing my schools, and i am proud to follow the teams (except Michigan) and live and die with their success and otherwise.

      Michigan State is going to the Final Four, and i am unabashedly a proud Spartan today!

  9. *****THIS COMMENT IS PERTINENT TO THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THIS ESSAY. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE. CHILDREN’S LIVES ARE AT RISK!!!!*****

    Let’s try this again. I’ll be nice and leave out the actual whos that are pushing the agenda to normalize pedophilia this time but hopefully those with any critical thinking skills will be able to figure it out.

    ‘Paedophilia is natural and normal for males’
    How some university academics make the case for paedophiles at summer conferences

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/10948796/Paedophilia-is-natural-and-normal-for-males.html

    Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/opinion/pedophilia-a-disorder-not-a-crime.html?_r=0

  10. Keysbum, I hear you and realize you have a fine understanding of what I am getting at … but I think you, as well as many others, are missing one salient point here: What I am saying is that NOT going to college would be a better option for most of these athletes. In other words, signing a pro contract out of high school, with varying degrees of bonus money depending on each athlete’s status, starting to immediately go to work, to broaden their horizons in this way, without hypocrisy and fakery, would be a much better life growing experience for these young men. Now, sure, do some student athletes at this elite football and basketball level get good value from college? Of course, but the whole business model would fall apart without the substantial stock of athletes that are not really students. The student-athlete charade is a much more rent able model than the pro minor league model, and that is why primarily Big Media promotes it and sells it. The NCAA is a convenient boogeyman, but the real culprit is Big Media. If you want to go on creating this myth in your mind about your school and its teams, by all means, hey, it’s better than starting oil wars. But for me this connection is hard to create anymore … and I’m amazed at how little I miss it or need it. Good stuff Keysbum, ciao, PCM

    • here is where my militancy concerning this topic is more mitigated than yours: while we concur that many kids simply want to “play ball” and have no interest in, nor derive substantive benefit from college, and have little relation to the term student-athlete, not an insignificant portion of the kids fail to fit into this paradigm. in fact i would argue most do not. even in the revenue producing sports, not all the athletes are from some inner city cesspool, or are corn fed rubes taken right off the turnip truck who couldn’t spell M.S.U. if you spotted them the m and the u. the people you speak of who should go right into a minor league, are that small fraction of elite athlete that posses the talent to have the opportunity of that even smaller fraction that can make athletics a pro career. most of the kids who participate do not have the illusion of pro stardom in their future. if they do, they are quickly relieved of that notion when confronted with the realities of their competition. i myself entered UCLA as a physics student; i just as quickly de-entered UCLA as a physics student when i was confronted with the brain power of the REAL physics students, and realized that my pea brain was better suited to other studies. what is it, 1 or 2% of college kids make it to the pros, and lets say 10X that THINK they can get to the pros, that still leaves the vast majority of kids who have no illusions of playing beyond college, and that makes college a good deal for them. was that not the case for you? i knew several players in passing (no stars), and these guys were all hitting the books, and doing all the college stuff that the rest of us were doing. They were a part of the same college community that i was. even those kids who were there strictly to play sports are walking the same campus, going to the same off-campus hangouts, lounging in the same student union, and doing everything possible to avoid going to the library, same as i was. they too were part of the college community, no matter the brevity or tangential their relationship to the academic side. that is why i can relate to any, and all the kids, that have Michigan State or Florida plastered across their chest. we do have a commonality, a shared experience and a bond that will last our entire lives.

      i am very proud to call myself an alum of the three schools i graduated from. i am proud to follow MSU and Florida, win or lose, in all their athletic endeavors. i recognize the great disparities and corruption in college sports and certainly welcome much needed reform. but at the end of the day, these are just kids living out their dream and doing something few of us can.

      • Keysbum, Good stuff, but, I still believe you are not getting it, in spite of the fact that yes, you can punch holes in my arguement, yes, there are some real student-athletes, etc. At this point in time, almost all the athletes competing at the highest level in football and basketball (and that is all I’m talking about here) are possible professionals coming out of high school. This should all be sorted out in professional minor leagues, which would be a better life experience for most of these kids, as well as a chance to make some money. Keysbum … they are ATHLETES, this is what they should be doing, not wasting time in a social setting that most of them are not participating in. What I’m saying is this: the whole collegiate athletic model is outmoded and insincere. Doing sports in universities is unknown anywhere else. Athletic talent is developed in local sporting clubs, not in schools. For those athletes who’d like to go to school, fine, go to school, nobody is stopping them. I just believe the whole model is now seriously flawed and should be done away with. But your comments are cogent, and if you’d like to be proud of this or that, fine. Here’s a suggestion: how about giving all these athletic scholarships to kids from marginal places who’d really like to go to college? Sure, not much finacial profit in that, but cannot our universities find a way to do that?

  11. Jerome, Please forgive me for my tardy comments on your well written insightful piece. My eyes tend to glaze over on the topic of sports, much like they glaze over at treasurers reports at meetings…Of course I remember the Penn State sexual abuse case and was as horrified as everyone else. Football is a religion, apparently and one of the priests got caught diddling an acolyte…Probably not the first time… Big Media is simply Big Corporate whose number one job is to create markets, make profits and increase those profits by any means necessary. Morals and ethics do not enter into it. Welcome to America. This Bud’s for you.

  12. Alex, Understood, of course, and that is exactly why I cannot accept this anymore. It is not presented to us in an honest way. It is crap … but so is everything else, right? But this is an even bigger pile of crap. Thanks man, PCM