Good Intentions Meet Woke Politics/ Privilege. Guess Who Wins?
When the law of unintended consequences meets an army of social engineers the result, most often, is the engineers going off the rails. That includes in the world of sports where the best of intentions about equal opportunity for women athletes has been exposed as a scam in the recent Varsity Blues scholarship case in the U.S.
For those not watching TMZ, the scandal involves the Rich & Famous® purchasing positions for their progeny at prestigious colleges and universities in the United States. The chaser to this story is the involvement of Hollywood stars in the legal drama now playing out in the courts. Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli (creator of the Mossimo clothing line) are alleged to have paid $500,000, disguised as a donation to a fake charitable foundation so their two daughters could join the USC women’s rowing team
The kicker? Neither young woman had ever trained in rowing and had no plans to do so at school. The couple has rejected a plea deal requiring two years in prison, and on April 15 pleaded not guilty, choosing to face up to 40 years in prison on the charges. While the bribes in these cases took various forms, this bribing of coaches and administrators at elite universities has gained particular scrutiny.
The idea of privileged children of celebrities masquerading as elite athletes to get into expensive schools appalled many. There were photoshopped pictures substituting the heads of the celebs’ kids and even a white person’s head superimposed on a black body that somehow were accepted for scholarship.
Coaches at these schools accepted bribes into the millions to look the other way or fool administrators on the applications. (Some claimed they applied the bribe money to their programs’ “needs”.) The scandal— triggered by former Montrealer Morrie Tobin turning evidence on the engineers of the scheme— is something more subtle than simple privilege buying favours.
A star of the Yale hockey team in the 80s, Tobin told authorities that the Yale women's soccer head coach had asked him for $450,000 in exchange for helping his youngest daughter gain admission. Tobin wore a wire while talking to Meredith in a Boston hotel on April 12, 2018; Meredith subsequently agreed to cooperate with the authorities. The FBI announced its charges earlier this year.
For NCAA athletics— already seen as a snake pit where athletes are denied compensation for their contributions to hugely lucrative programs— it was another black eye. Many point out that the trigger for the athletics part of the scandal may be the infamous Title IX regulations passed in 1972.
The good intention of the social engineers behind Title IX was to ensure that women were given equal athletic scholarships to men. In other words, for every scholarship athlete on the football team— numbering as many as 85 at a major football program— there must be an equal number of scholarships for women’s sports.
So far, so good. Many Canadian women have profited from this initiative over the decades, winning scholarships to play NCAA sports. A number of women’s sports have likewise benefitted from the infusion of cash this brought.
The problem with the idea? It’s just two men’s sports that pay the freight. Says PJ Media: “Football and basketball essentially pay for the rest of college athletics—and colleges will do anything to keep that going. Including having a sham of a women’s rowing team, in too many cases.”
Says the L.A. Times: “Schools with high-profile football programs use the sport as a Title IX counterweight, allotting women’s rowing programs as many as 20 scholarships, said Linda Muri, who coached crew at Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard for two decades. As a result, some crew programs have rosters of 40 or 50 rowers — enough, perhaps, to stow away one or two in the recruiting process who didn’t belong.”
As for the outrage that the children of privilege were taking a scholarship from an otherwise deserving student/ athlete? It appears that positions on women’s athletic teams go begging every year in the balancing of women’s sports versus the profitable men’s collegiate sports. That’s why they look to Canada and elsewhere. If they don’t balance the equation the federal education enforcers will gut their school with fines and lost scholarships.
More likely there’s a deserving young baseball player who’s more hurt by the Title IX dance. The NCAA allows 20 scholarship spots for crew but, because of the predominance of football and baseball, just 11.7 for men’s baseball.
Thus we have the farce just exposed in the criminal proceedings. Good intentions meet the double play of woke politics plus privilege. Guess who wins that fight?
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of his website Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available.