Outside Of The Games, Are Sports Corrupt?

Nov 19, 2014
Originally published on November 19, 2014 9:03 am

We so regularly excuse the chicanery of sport. We fans suspect that our team is just as guilty as whatever ooze bubbles to the surface elsewhere, so let it go lest we be the next one caught. For us privileged to actually be down in the rabbit hole, the sins have been so present for so long, they simply become accepted as a benign part of the landscape. Hey, it's all just fun and games, so go along, be a — well, be a good sport.

Only, every now and then ...

Every now and then the evils are just so gross that you have to blink open the blind eye. Sorry. Such was the past week.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on the issue.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now we go to our commentator Frank Deford, who says he would like to see some recalls in the sporting world.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: We so regularly excuse the chicanery of sport. We fans suspect that our team is just as guilty as whatever ooze bubbles to the surface elsewhere. So let it go less we be the next one caught. And for us privileged to actually be down in the rabbit hole, the sins have been present for so long they simply become accepted as a benign part of the landscape. Hey, it's all just fun and games. So, hey, go along, be well, be a good sport. Only every now and then, every now and then, the evils are just so gross that you have to blink open the blind eye. And sorry such was this past week.

A brief resume - FIFA, which is the international soccer cartel that lives in an ethics-free zone, FIFA's executive committee was so suspected of taking bribes that FIFA ordered its own internal investigation. Yes, indeed, let's get to the bottom of this. But when the study was released, FIFA just ipso facto brazenly declared that the investigation said everyone was cleared, even though the report was kept confidential and get this - even as the prime investigator screamed what FIFA was saying was not what he had discovered. Wow. Score, FIFA - one, Honesty - nil.

At least further investigation into the University of North Carolina academic scandal was released. But what it showed was that most of the key players of the 2005 championship basketball team were enrolled in paper classes. And if you think that UNC is the only college with fraudulent courses for athletes, I'd like you to meet my friend the Easter Bunny.

The New York Times continued to show conclusively that a municipal police department, namely that one allegedly protecting the law-abiding citizens of Tallahassee, Florida, does not choose to enforce the law when members of its adored local team, Florida State, appear to commit crimes.

A perfectly horrifying article by Rachel Sturtz in the latest Outside Magazine detailed decades of sexual abuse by adult male swimming coaches who've raped their teenager swimmers. And, says the article, don't think this just happens in swimming. It turns your stomach.

How ironic it is in no institution are the rules enforced more emphatically than in games. But more and more we must acknowledge the great contradiction that away from the games, no institution is so corrupt as is sports. Defend the sport, protect the athlete, sometimes though the deceit and the dishonor and the disgust just overwhelm the games. Such was this past week. Sorry to be such a - well, such a spoilsport.

INSKEEP: Frank Deford, spoilsport? Never. Well, not really. He's with us here every Wednesday. And we'd like to thank you for joining us here each morning on your public radio station. You can continue to follow us throughout your day on Facebook or Twitter on @MorningEdition and @NPRInskeep and @NPRGreene. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.