The American integrity standard?

Typically, you won’t read about sports on unless it’s about youth sports and recreation programs.

Ohio State crys for Jim TresselBut as the entire city of Columbus is now embroiled in a huge debate- not over the raising of the debt limit, abortion bills or our involvement in three undeclared wars, but over the resignation of the Ohio State University football coach, Jim Tressel.

It seems coach Tressel lied to the NCAA about known violations of their slavery system, and then lied to the university. Tressel was paid $3.5 million to win a dozen plus football games a year, with grossly underpaid labor (student athletes are supposed to believe a trade for room, board and an education is equal to the value the university gets for their physically dangerous jobs).

Jim Tressel did his job- he beat Michigan and won a lot of games- but, it seems he’s become the poster child for ethics in this county. Getting caught lying about something that EVERY SINGLE MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL program engages in- is unacceptable.

Everyone knows that boosters, who pay tens of thousands for seats, memorabilia, special coach and player access- slip money and perks to star players. Athletes who come from poor families, driving new cars, wearing the latest fashions, sporting jewelry and tattoos that cost a lot of money prove the point.

The fact that the coach makes three times the salary of the president of the university shows where our priorities are. And that the president makes ten times what the governor makes further clarifies our values.

While it’s easy to stand on the sidelines and argue that the coach is worth the money from the revenue generated, or the wins or even the graduation rate, the insanity is that this man is being held to a higher standard than any of our elected leaders who have all sold out to special interests or become millionaires, despite relatively low pay (members of Congress make $180K or so a year and have to maintain 2 residences).

If I didn’t know how worthless the Federal Election Commission is at pursuing gross ethical violations in just campaign money- I’d say the NCAA is the biggest joke going. The Feds have been cracking down on unpaid professional internships- requiring pay by companies that give young people a chance to get real world experience- yet the NCAA forbids pay to players being put through a 4-year internship for pro sports.

There can be no mistake that America believes in a dream- the dream that a few of us can become the next LeBron James, or Barack Obama- while the rest of us are forced to play in a casino that has the odds stacked toward the house- our financial system, health care system, education system and our political system have odds tilted heavily toward the rich.

We should all feel so much safer that the Justice Department has banned online poker– yet, failed to prosecute any of the thieves of Wall Street.

And we should all rest better, knowing that only in America do we hold our football coaches to a higher standard of integrity than we do our politicians.

The first step to solving our problems is to totally eliminate any donations to political campaigns, just as there can be no donations to student athletes. Give our candidates equal media exposure at the taxpayers’ expense, give the candidates stipends to campaign for 6 weeks (which would have to be returned if the candidate didn’t receive at least 15% of the popular vote). Move to single election dates with instant runoff balloting and let’s start getting a country that can proudly say we don’t have a pay-to-play crony capitalism system.

Then let’s start dealing with the lying football coaches.

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