A star athlete takes his new college team to a national championship game and earns national honors along the way ("Upping the Ante," December 17th issue). Soon afterward, it is revealed that he may or may not have cheated to get into the college and that the college may or may not have known about the irregularities. But the athlete has already gone pro and apparently refuses to cooperate with investigators, and his former coach has conveniently left as well.
So his former team and university may be subject to severe sanctions, including forfeiture of the entire season and its championship run. Meanwhile, the athlete retains the numerous honors given him that fateful year, and the new coach is making millions.
And people wonder whether college sports are broken.
John Branston's story on the University of Memphis/NCAA battle was the best and clearest summation of this situation that I have read anywhere. It reinforced my belief, stated by former coach Bobby Knight in a speech this week, that "something is wrong" with a system that allows the true perpetrators of a fraud to walk away from the scene of the crime with no punishment whatsoever. They are even enriched by their illegal actions — John Calipari at Kentucky and Derrick Rose in the NBA. Knight said rhetorically of Calipari: "Why is this man still coaching?" Why, indeed?
The only ones who are punished, as the rules are currently constructed, are the university that is left to clean up the mess and the players who played by the rules (and who are stripped of all their hard-earned victories). Why is Calipari still coaching? Because he can get away with it.
The Flyer is to be commended for keeping the heat on the Tennessee GOP — and particularly Secretary of State Tre Hargett — and their attempts to gut the 2008 Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (Editorial, December 17th issue). The money is there to implement paper ballots for all Tennessee voters, and the law is quite clear and passed with a solid majority. What's also quite clear is that the GOP wants to make it easier to cover up election shenanigans. What other reason could there be for fighting this law so hard? There is none.
My old friend "Jug" and I also share a love for Born Losers and the rich chick in the white bikini on the motor scooter (Editor's Note, December 17th issue). When actor Jeremy Slate took that perfectly placed bullet that split his sunglasses in half, it was the coolest and most violent thing we had ever seen on screen. We still like to talk about it.
We didn't care much for Billy Jack, but the bad guys were cool.
In his letter to the editor (December 3rd issue), E.W. "Bill" Brody made some outrageous statements about Memphis that need to be addressed.
First of all, Brody's gross exaggeration of Memphis as a city of the very rich and the very poor is utter nonsense. Approximately 200,000 Memphians live at or below the federal poverty level. Memphis' total population is around 650,000, so less than one-third live in poverty. The other 450,000 are not "rich." The per capita annual income ($30,557) has actually increased in recent years.
Brody's ridiculous assertion that Memphis has fulfilled Time magazine's 40-year-old description of the city as a "decaying river town" with "rotting" neighborhoods and infrastructure is belied by the strong, visable, stable neighborhoods found in the so-called inner city: Cooper-Young, Vollintine-Evergreen, Tucker-Jefferson, Central Gardens, Lennox, and Glenview are all nice neighborhoods with an interesting mix of people earning a wide range of incomes.
To be blunt, Brody's main problem with Memphis seems to be that there are too many poor people here who he thinks don't have "the capacity to qualify" for good jobs and therefore bring the entire city down to a lower socioeconomic level. While it is true that social pathology is common in isolated, low-income, high-crime areas, the great majority of Memphians live productive, comfortable lives in pleasant neighborhoods. This city continues to make progress, despite harsh, unwarranted criticisms.