Opinion: Pledging allegiance to the team

Jody Michael

Jody Michael

Jody Michael is a junior broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

In case you missed it, Jim Tressel, Ohio State football coach, resigned on Memorial Day after a Sports Illustrated investigation discovered the program’s widely known NCAA violations dated at least as far back as the Buckeyes’ championship season in 2002.

Some of Tressel’s players had been trading championship rings and other awards for tattoos, though NCAA rules prohibit such arrangements. Tressel was aware this was happening and didn’t notify the school; instead, he lied and said he had no idea.

I’m not sure which is worse: Ohio State breaking these relatively insignificant rules, or the masses of Buckeye fans who blindly continued to support the team, careless to the program’s wrongdoing. One needn’t look further than my Facebook news feed during the past several months.

“You’re a good man, Jim Tressel,” one of my friends posted. (Apparently, good men don’t mind breaking rules.) She and two of my other friends participated in a student march across campus to show support for Tressel.

Why? His players broke the rules on his watch. Why would anyone celebrate his failed leadership and, in effect, pretend his incompetence is completely acceptable?

One of Ohio State’s most notable alumni is former quarterback and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, but he had to move from his Columbus home this year because some Ohio State-obsessed idiots were too vitriolic towards his family out of anger that Herbstreit actually attempts to be objective instead of a complete Buckeye homer.

But these pale in comparison to what investigators have been discovering at the University of Miami (the one in Florida, not Ohio) this month. Football booster Nevin Shapiro used his part ownership in a sports agency to lavish players with illegal benefits, offer players cash bounties for injuring opposing quarterbacks and even to pay for a prostitute to have an abortion after a player got her pregnant.

Hurricane fans, as one writer put it, are “showing amazing solidarity in their pathological state of denial.” I have a few Facebook friends who are Hurricane fans and thus posted lots of links from Miami blogs that have been relentlessly shifting the blame or pretending a reporter with 20,000 pages of financial records had insufficient evidence.

Meanwhile, here at Kent State, we should be proud of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision; our athletic department is one of just 17 to have never had a major NCAA violation – but that doesn’t mean our athletic programs are perfect.

Last season, three men’s basketball players were part of a brawl, and another was arrested for a theft. This tested my support of the team – I didn’t want to root for them and consequently endorse this behavior – but ultimately I cheered on the Flashes during their exciting postseason run in the NIT.

What makes this different? It’s simple: those players’ suspensions eventually ended, and they had a right to redeem themselves.

Kent State fans learned what punishment is supposed to be. Now it’s time for Ohio State and Miami to learn what’s supposed to happen when people break the rules.