injustice in the ncaa: cam newton

image courtesy of trackemtigers.com

[*If you generally skip my posts concerning sports, this one is also about Christianity, slavery, and drawing and quartering people.  Come on, give just this one sports post a shot.]


Okay, I’ll admit it.  All this Cam Newton stuff has got me really riled up. You know when one character in a movie realizes something nobody else knows, and they try to explain it but no one believes them, and you just want to yell at the screen for them to listen to the guy, because he knows what he’s talking about?  That’s how I feel.  I don’t believe I’m smarter than everyone else (or anyone else) — that’s not my deal.  I just can’t seem to find anyone willing to think through this in logical fashion.  At least no one willing to offer me acceptable or reasonable answers.

I’ve posted on some comment boards, asking some of the very questions I asked in my last post.  Basically I’m wanting to know:

Why do so many of us support the punishment of innocent people in the area of college football recruitment?

Do we really think it’s fair to end the academic and athletic career of a student athlete whose greedy relative tried, unbeknownst to the player, to shop him around for money?

So far, I’ve received three types of answers:

  1. We have to be consistent.  In the past we’ve punished some players for the sins of their relatives.  We can’t just change our minds now.  We’ve always done it this way.
  2. We need to be extremely strict on this, so as to deter it from happening in the future.  We punish the player regardless of his involvement or knowledge of the wrongdoing because that will teach other students’ parents not to do this.
  3. Are you an idiot?!  You must be, because everyone in the whole world has met and discussed this and we all agree except for you.  The NCAA agrees with us, as do most of the conference officials and university presidents.  We punish Cam Newton and others like him simply because most of us think we should — especially those really important people.

I don’t know about you, but I believe all three of these reasons to be full of crap.  Get this — using these same three arguments, I’ll offer some other suggestions that must be good, right, and logical:

  1. Slavery is good. Really, we should keep this whole people-as-property thing going.  Why rid ourselves of a perfectly good system?  I mean we’ve always done it this way.
  2. Henceforth, from this point on, we will draw-and-quarter any student athlete whose parent or other relative has inquired at any university concerning a pay-for-play plan.  Then we will send the four portions of his lifeless body to the four corners of these United States.  We will teach parents that they can’t do this sort of thing.  We’ve just got to hit them where it hurts. Slaughter their children.
  3. Let’s keep the current BCS system forever; it’s so awesome and all the officials and school presidents like it so much already. Forget a playoff, everybody — computers and polls are where it’s at.

And just for the sake of pushing a little further, let me try this all again but with Christianity as my subject of choice:

  1. Well, we’ve always met in a building with a steeple and a lot of pews that all face the front. And you want us to consider meeting in someone’s home now?  Where will the preacher put his pulpit?  And do we really have the funds to buy songbooks for everyone to keep at home?  How in the world will we know if everyone’s following our required order of worship (welcome – 2 songs – opening prayer – 2 songs – scripture reading – 1 song – communion – giving – 1 song and mark another in your songbooks – sermon – invitation song (previously marked) – elder speaks for a moment – song – closing prayer)?
  2. All forms of dancing are wrong and evil.  Males and females cannot and should not swim together or near enough to one another to be seen while in bathing suits.  Any alcohol is sin, and Harry Potter is Satan incarnate.  Anyone involved in any of these activities — or who knows someone who is — will be shunned, gossiped about, and possibly disfellowshipped or excommunicated.
  3. Are you kidding?!  Everyone knows the way to reach out to the lost is to have an awesome band on Sunday morning and a knock-off Starbucks coffee shop in what used to be the foyer (we now call it the cafe).  Yeah, all the biggest churches are doing it, and all the biggest Christian authors are writing about it….

Someone please offer me a better reason for punishing an innocent student athlete for the sins of his father.

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30 Comments

Filed under just thinking, really?!, sports

30 responses to “injustice in the ncaa: cam newton

  1. Pingback: justice in the ncaa: cam newton | aliens and strangers

  2. JLynn

    I don’t really follow all the sports stuff. I DO watch Auburn football. That’s the only one. (father-in-law taught there, daughter and son-in-law were at Auburn, hubby is a fan AND we have an Indy/Auburn club here in Indianapolis – go figure)
    But didn’t I hear that his father took the money from some other school? Not from Auburn? Excuse me for not being into the sports stuff, but that doesn’t even make any sense – to punish Cam for that. If it was a bribe, it didn’t even work. It seems so stupid I can’t even follow their logic.
    Okay, gotta go…..games about to start.
    WAR EAGLE!!

    • jlynn, the investigation so far reveals that cecil newton had discussions with mississippi state boosters concerning a possible pay-for-play arrangement. no money exchanged hands, cameron didn’t know about it, and cameron is playing at auburn where there have been no accusations of money being involved.

      i’m enjoying the game. halftime now.

  3. Bernard Shuford

    I love it man. I agree 100%.

  4. “Are you kidding?! Everyone knows the way to reach out to the lost is to have an awesome band on Sunday morning and a knock-off Starbucks coffee shop in what used to be the foyer (we now call it the cafe). Yeah, all the biggest churches are doing it, and all the biggest Christian authors are writing about it….”

    Ha! That’s good. Liked your #1 under Christianity as well. Good stuff.

    Just because #3 is the way things currently are in many churches doesn’t make it right…although it’s hard to say if it’s necessarily “wrong” either.

    • ya , what she said 😉

      but, I still think he’s guilty by association….I can see a cousin doing something he was unaware of, but his dad…..he knew…..
      (but, I’m not God, and I don’t care about football now that my brother is not on the MSU team anymore!)

      • the worst part is that even though I know having the kickin’ band and hip cafe are just cheap tricks, when I visit a church I don’t judge it based on its community but things such as these.

        • i am just as guilty, charlie, though of the opposite direction. i also tend to judge churches based on bands and cafes — though i judge them poorly — often without looking at other characteristics.

      • two things:

        1) i wouldn’t be surprised at all if newton had known about his father’s doings. but i’ve decided, as everyone should, to allow for his innocence until proven otherwise.

        2) your brother played for MSU??!?!! that’s awesome. though, what did your gator family think about that?

  5. steve ker

    My, my, my this really bugs you, doesn’t it?
    If Cam didn’t know what his father was doing, then he shouldn’t be punished, which is the decision the NCAA has made at this point. If Cam is lying and was a part of it then he will have to live with the consecquences. He is a big part of the success of Auburn’s success and to forbid him from playing would be wrong.
    As far as the church is concerned you can’t be a pastor, elder or even a sunday school teacher if you smoke, drink alcohol and attend our church. I guess it is ok if you have been an adulterer as long as you haven’t been caught. We have more rules that drive people away from church than welcome them.
    We need to look at all the rules we have set up for church and soceity and decide if they are still or ever have been relavant.
    Love God, love others, and follow the example of Jesus will go a long way.

    • steve, those are some great thoughts. in my opinion, we need more sunday school teachers who drink alcohol. i think a lot of our problem is that 1) the stance we take is wrong (drinking alcohol is not sin) and 2) because of that stance, we never model responsible drinking for youth (or anyone). here in tanzania, we have these same problems, only they are magnified times 20. i don’t know if anyone in my town has ever seen someone drink a beer without getting drunk.

      and i’m fine with a lot of these rules we make that go beyond protecting us from sin into limiting our freedoms — as long as grace and love are shown to those who don’t agree. but we tend to not only fail to give grace in those situations, but also to bind our rules on others in typical pharisee fashion.

  6. War Eagle!

    I’m going to have to find a way to watch the national championship. Gotta see this unbelievable Auburn team for myself.

  7. so looks like we’ve got a month to trash talk one another James in preparation for the big game.

    • that’s a true statement. and i think this one is too:

      oregon’s undefeated season involved a schedule in which only 3 (maybe 4?) of their opponents ended with winning records.

      let the trash talk begin.

  8. Eagle

    Mere musings from an agnostic/former Christian…but I think our society can be too harsh at times when it comes to punishment. This can be a rant for another time but I think one thing our justice system is great at isssssssssssssss….taking someone and help destroy their life. How? By giving them the stigma for life (becuase of our Puritical heritage…) because of their crime so that when they are on probation or get out of jail they can’t get a job becuase of their history which then makes them go back to crime, and the cycle feeds itself.

    But getting back to Auburn I don’t figure out why Newton should be held responsible for something his Dad did (if he did it…) and also how is it a crime if his Dad just spoke with MSU. Bribery involves the transfer of money, or favorable services, to influence a situation of which nothing like that has happened (if I am reading this right….)

    But when it comes to the church I think we need to remember that grace is a fallacy and non-existant. As a former Christian I’m amazed at how many times the church blows it and blows it and blows it!!! They have so many opportunities to help show love to people who have committed a crime, had some type of moral shortcoming, had financial difficulty, experienced failure in some way in there spiritual walk. But just the opposite is true…in order to maintain a strict environment and facade discipline must be difficult and harsh.

    You know I’ve wondered if some pastors or Christians get so caught up and tired of the “rules” that they engage in adultry, or do something as a means out of that system. They know they will be expelled and I wonder if some pursue this behavior as a means to escape that type of system.

    • i’m not positive, eagle, but i’m nearly positive that there was no crime committed (bribery as you suggested) in these involvements. the punishments are being given by the ncaa, for one of their athletes (or his family) breaking their rules for college athletics.

      i think you’re right, eagle, that many churches have blown it over and over when it comes to showing grace. but i’ve also seen a lot who have not. i’m a part of one of those. i’ve witnessed more grace and love in that church than anywhere outside it. and it’s not a cheap grace where everyone lets you belong, no matter how you act or what you do. it’s the kind of grace that offers forgiveness for wrongs, but always seeks to help you become a better person. there is acceptance, but still responsibility. i would imagine we could find something similar at aa meetings.

  9. The great test of our Jesus experience is whether or not we extend grace because of our experience of grace. Some extend no grace because they have never experienced grace and others because they have false assumptions about the grace they received (e.g., “I deserved that!”).

  10. Cam Newton definitely needs to be punished not only for his father shopping him around, but there are other allegations of cheating and theft that have been lost in the storm of his father’s fraud. It grieves me that athletes can be immune to any sort of retribution for their actions and are protected by the powers that be just because they can throw or kick a ball. Second, the Heisman trophy’s criterion is an honorable academic record and integrity, something that has been called into question about Cam Newton. He is not the innocent lamb that you are portraying him as…
    Third, his father shopping around, with or without his knowledge, is a crime in the sports world and as such he and all parties involved are liable to the consequences of their actions. I find it hard to believe that Cam Newton “did not know” that his father was shopping around. An obvious flag would have been the new TV, or car or vacation that he never took before.

    But let’s assume for a minute that your rhetoric is totally right and Cam Newton did not know at all about his father shopping him around. This still leaves the problem of accountability of the schools and the parents and as stated, this will create a hurricane of dissent as all parents will be able to shop their athletes around. There needs to be accountability on Cam’ Newton’s part and on his father’s part. Should he be disallowed to play in the Bowl? Yes. Should he not be awarded the Heisman trophy? Nope, it should not go to him. But honestly in 2 years, all of this is not going to matter because he will be drafted to the NFL regardless of his academic integrity.

    By the way your “arguments” about slavery, etc Don’t really stand up to critical evaluation. First, they are highly rhetorical, polemical and perspectival meaning that one has to follow, and most importantly agree with, your way of thinking in order for them to work. Second, they are false dichotomies. You can’t analogicize a situation by applying to a completely different scenario, thereby eliminating the original context and situation. All this does is piss people off (excuse my language).

    • divine, i think it’s your suggestion that allegations alone warrant punishment that bothers me most.

      it is my understanding that newton was punished just as anyone else would have been in the stolen laptop situation (it is also my understanding that he bought a stolen laptop, and not that he stole it). as for the academic accusations, i don’t think they were ever verified to be true or not; either way, that was at florida several years ago, so i don’t understand what his current school would be expected to do to right a situation that didn’t occur at their institution?

      i don’t believe i said anything concerning the heisman trophy.

      nor did i paint newton as an innocent lamb. i’ve merely decided to go by the facts that have been presented at this point — which is all any of us can be expected to do (or should do). i would not be surprised to learn that newton knew of his father’s plans. but we don’t know that. and punishments ought not be doled out based on our suspicions alone.

      i don’t know anything about a new television, car, or vacation. it’s my understanding that newton rides the same scooter he has since arriving at auburn.

      if you’re willing to assume for the sake of argument (if not for the fact that these are indeed the information we have at this point) that cam newton didn’t know about his father’s shopping, then why does there “need to be” accountability on cameron newton’s part? that’s my question, which you’ve not answered but instead assumed as truth. i am more than happy to listen to reasons for punishing a cam newton who wasn’t involved in the plots to receive money, but you’ve done little more than assume he must be accountable for something he didn’t do.

      you have, however, offered a version of the #2 argument from above — that we have to make an example out of the newton family so others won’t do the same. so you have no problem punishing an innocent athlete in order to deter other parents from taking advantage of their children? how much more would you be willing to sacrifice to deter these parents?

      the “arguments” about slavery and the like were not meant to persuade people over to my side, but rather to poke fun at the poor arguments made thus far. and they are that — poor arguments. should we really be convinced that, because we’ve always done something a particular way, it is correct and right? that’s a ridiculous idea, which i’ve attempted to point out. how many injustices in our world would continue if we held this mindset in areas other than football?

      your language is certainly excused — not problem. but i have to wonder why my poking fun at these arguments has bothered you so. which of those three arguments would you like to defend? which of those three arguments would you yourself like to be judged by?

      • Yeah it was a bit garbled and lacked some coherence. I apologize, my next post will be more itemized.

      • First, I’m going to clarify something that you misunderstood. You misunderstood a little bit and the car and vacation. I was speaking a HYPOTHETICAL car, vacation etc from his father. In reality his father probably used the money to renovate his church which had fallen into disrepair and was under constant pressure from the city to repair the facility. 50,000$ is hard to raise, in a small town. Regardless, this is not about his father so much. I will post an article of where this information comes from at the end of my post and provide more evidence for my position.

        My reasons for the punishment of Newton is both consistency and accountability on the part of the NCAA and the massive loophole that this opens up. The organization throughout it’s history has been shown to be hypocritical and inconsistent in how it deals with dissent. It’s rather comical that the NCAA would not follow it’s own rules

        An author on SI states that “By doing the ‘right thing’ based on the available evidence, the NCAA has opened a gaping loophole in its own enforcement process. Any player who is for sale during his recruitment now may shift blame to a parent, an uncle or a crooked family friend and say, “Well, you let Cam Newton play.” USC tailback Dillon Baxter should be furious. How big is the loophole? Ask Sonny Vaccaro, the basketball power-broker. “The NCAA just gave cover to every middle man in the country,” Vaccaro told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. “The kids never know. In all my years, I’ve never heard of a kid being involved in the negotiation. You think they ask? Of course not. Their mom asks. Their coach asks. Their cousin asks. This is crazy.”

        One thing I do NOT think he should be punished in is in the area of academics. I do think that he should not be allowed to play, but he should not be expelled from the school, unless there is academic infractions. I will use a personal example. I have used anabolic steroids in my life. I have personal views about their legality that I’m pretty open about. Regardless, if I were playing a sport and I was caught using them, then I should have suffered the consequences. You do the crime you have to do the time. We are all bounds by rules and laws, natural (as in the law of gravity) or unnatural (as in the laws of the land or organization). The choices that we make have consequences, even to those that are innocent, which is why we need to be especially careful about the choices we make that involve others. That’s life and we have to deal with it. Just like in war, there are civilian casualties, it happens that’s war. Newton’s father should have taken his son into consideration when he made a very bad choice.

        In closing I have to say that we would not even be discussing this if Auburn was not a contender for the National title. Cam Newton would have already been suspended for a game or two. The problem here is that the stakes were so high. Should that not tell us something about our perceptions of both our idolization of athletes and sports, and our willingness to ignore the rules when success is accumulated..

        Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/andy_staples/12/01/cam-newton-ncaa-eligible/index.html#ixzz17af0lJ2k

        About the repairs in the church:
        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/football/ncaa/11/11/kenny.rogers.cecil.newton.ap/index.html

        • divine, i think you’re probably right about cam’s star status being much of the reason he wasn’t — or hasn’t yet been — punished. and i don’t think that’s fair. but i still don’t think it’s right to punish a player for what he doesn’t do. i think he shouldn’t be punished either way.

          your arguments of 1) consistency, 2) accountability for the ncaa, and 3) the loophole don’t sway my thinking much. consistency means nothing if what you are doing is wrong in the first place — well, i suppose in that case it could show a willingness to be stubborn. but consistency alone doesn’t speak one way or the other to whether a punishment is just or right.

          and accountability for the ncaa is great; i want the same. but i’m wanting accountability to punishments that are just. and punishing a kid for the wrongs of his father isn’t.

          the loophole is a legitimate concern. there is a loophole and it will be abused. so we have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to punish innocent people to rid ourselves of this loophole? or is there a way we could punish the wrongdoer while holding the innocent as being innocent? i choose the second. deterring others from breaking a rule is not important enough to me to punish kids who have bad parents for simply being related to them.

          there is a huge difference in your steroids analogy and this case. you chose to do steroids while playing sports in the former. for your analogy to be accurate, we’d have to say that cam newton should be punished if his father used steroids, or his brother — even if he didn’t know about it. or maybe if they somehow snuck illegal drugs into his food and he didn’t know it. that might be similar.

          and you’re right, the choices i make have consequences for me and for those around me. but that doesn’t mean it’s right to add to those consequences punishments deemed as fair or right. but it seems your view is that this loophole is important enough to protect that you don’t mind collateral damage. your view is that it doesn’t matter if he’s innocent, we should punish him anyway. is that really how you would want to be treated yourself?

          • I think that the real dilemma here is in the assumption that Cam Newton is totally innocent (something I alluded to when I said that your portrayed him as an innocent lamb) and unfortunately we simply do not know whether he is or not. He denies involvement, or more specifically he evades all questions when asked, but as it stands, it’s big question as to his innocence. If he has been shown to be guilty, would you change your position?

            Collateral damage is a part of life and unfortunately Cam’s father’s choice has an undue consequence. It remains to be seen what will become of all this but it does not bode well for Cam Newton in my conjecture.

            My steroid story was more of an answer to your question on how I would want to be judged. I was not involved in sports while taking roids, but if I were, then I would accept my punishment because frankly I broke the rules , even though I have personal feelings about their legality.

            By the way, the reason I was riled up about this is because there are more pressing things to cry injustice about then some athlete that I’ve neither met, nor probably never will. If you really want to cry out against injustice then I would seriously pick something else to protest. But nevertheless, we shall have to agree to disagree. I will defer any further posts after this. Thank you for you time.

          • “I think that the real dilemma here is in the assumption that Cam Newton is totally innocent… If he has been shown to be guilty, would you change your position?”

            i would not change my position, divine, because my position has always been that, until cam newton is proven guilty, we should treat his as if he’s innocent. and we should not punish innocent people for wrongs done by a parent. if he is guilty, the ncaa should punish him; i’ve never suggested otherwise.

  11. Pingback: is _____________ a spiritual gift? | aliens and strangers

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