September 12, 2013

Fightin' Words: Fans can change college football culture...if they want to

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


Back in the 1970s and 80s, Italy saw remarkable economic growth and everyone was happy.

This is probably why for the longest time, no one took an opportunity to remove the glittered golden veil and uncover what turned out to be a boom fueled by corruption, back room deals and shady dealings with the mafia. But even if they would have known about how the country was finding itself on good times, could they have brought themselves to push the brakes and, in essence, bring the country back down?

These are the questions we know must ask ourselves about college football. There's no way to say that every top Division I university program is participating in the activities Oklahoma State is alleged to have done by a series of Sports Illustrated articles, so we can't really say that everyone does it. But, this is only the latest in a string of revelations about the potentially seedy underworld of college football which stretches back to the great Southern Methodist University scandal and the "death penalty" they received in the late 1980s.

Another example is soccer's rise via the international organization FIFA. Under president Joao Havelange, FIFA brought a prominent rise of support and sponsorship to the game between 1974 and 1998 through what is now the most famous sporting event in the world, the World Cup. The problem is, Havelange used some pretty shady tactics to do this and faced allegations of taking bribes. To this day, a shadow of doubt over FIFA's dealings exist.

The point is, throughout history -- whether its countries, U.S. cities in the 1920s, or professional and college sports programs -- success often, but not always, hides a culture of corruption that any humane person would find objectionable. But, I have to wonder whether fans or donors would prefer to know everything about their favorite college team or professional team and know they do things the proper way? Or, would they rather turn a blind eye to something corrupt with the knowledge that such an action will bring success?

Regardless of how the majority feels, odds are more sports fans than there should be agree with the latter. If it's not there, then nothing's wrong. And now look, we get a shiny trophy and an impressive title. That makes everything worth it, right?

Until this changes and the NCAA becomes proactive in preventing instances where the pressure off success leads to questionable practices, the activities that are being alleged against Oklahoma State will continue to happen in school's across the country, whether it is a toxic team culture or an instance of poor judgement. The power is still in the fans and private donors to pressure the NCAA and universities to weed out this type of behavior by demanding they abide by the rules regardless of end-of-season success. The question remains: is that what fans really want?