Service of Winning at All Costs

March 21st, 2011

Categories: Cheating, Deception, Politics, Sports, Winning


I heard about a sports investigation on WFAN Radio’s “The Sport’s Edge” with Rick Wolff. Wolff asked his Sunday morning guest, Jeff Benedict: “Can You Have a Winning College Football Program Without Having Some Players on Your Roster Who Have Criminal Records?” Benedict is one of the collaborators on a Sports Illustrated cover story, “Criminal Records in College Football.”

Benedict also blogged about the story in “Lessons to be learned from the SI/CBS News investigation.”  He wrote:  “Over a six-month period we conducted criminal background checks on all 2,837 players whose names appeared on the rosters of SI’s 2010 preseason Top 25 poll on Sept. 1. We turned up 204 players (7%) who had been charged with 277 incidents or crimes. Nearly 40 percent involved serious crime.”

He outlined the extent of SI and CBS’s checks and continued: “The numbers are an important place to start any conversation about the situation. But the most striking revelations from this investigation are not statistical. The guts of the story are what college coaches know and don’t know about the players they are recruiting.

dont-want-to-know1“We polled all 25 schools in our sample and found that only two (TCU and Oklahoma) perform any kind of regular formal criminal background checks on recruits. But even those two schools don’t look at juvenile records…..

“But the simplest way for a coach to learn a recruit’s juvenile history is to ask him for it. That doesn’t seem unreasonable before handing over a four-year scholarship worth well over $100,000.” Benedict noted that most coaches don’t want to know. On WFAN Benedict told of one student charged with armed robbery less than five miles from the college that recruited him.

Turning to politics, former New York Governor David Paterson, acting as substitute host on a morning radio program a week ago, shared highlights of flimflammery that duped him. Shortly after he was appointed governor, a high profile person [he wouldn’t identify] told him that Governor Spitzer–who’d resigned precipitously as a result of a sex scandal–had promised him a job. He hounded the new governor, practically “following me into the men’s room,” at a time where his focus was on catching up on far bigger matters. So he gave in. Next time he saw Eliot Spitzer, Paterson asked about the fellow and Spitzer said he’d never promised him a job.

Is winning so important that you relate to college coaches who want no details about players so they can gather a winning team and a job applicant who lies about a promise so as to bamboozle a juicy sinecure? How does a team or a person remain competitive in such an environment?


6 Responses to “Service of Winning at All Costs”

  1. MMD Said:

    I’m all for being honest, truthful and forthright as it in the long run pays off.

    I truly believe getting ahead at the expense of others will eventually come back to haunt you.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m with you: Couldn’t have said it better. I vote for being able to sleep at night. As for the coaches, what ever happened with the saying, “You’re known by the company you keep?” What a thing to mix thugs in with college kids without blinking.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s right to check past records, but wrong to deny someone, especially one so young, a second chance, especially if he has given every indication of wanting to clean up his act. It’s hard not to feel contempt for the righteous posture society assumes in light of the fact that a hefty percentage of those judging others are acting more out of envy than of virtue.

    If it’s right to assume so harsh a position, then it’s right not to justify ones own wrongdoings. People make mistakes, are often sorry, and have learned a valuable lesson as well. They should should be encouraged to straighten themselves out. Failure to do so is to create repeat offenders, since if denied understanding and help, there is nothing to lose.

    There is an inexcusable amount of make work laws so as to create criminal records, when no actual crime has been committed. As a result, this country is reputed to have the largest jail population in the world. For a “free country” or a “democracy” this is a disgrace. If and when action is taken to strike such laws from the books, there will be many less candidates with “criminal records” presenting themselves to coaches and/or employers.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    I agree that there are some laws that are excessively harsh and inappropriate for the misdemeanor, though I wouldn’t list armed robbery among the ones that should be forgiven too quickly.

    If a school is handing a person a $100,000 scholarship, someone at the school, if not the coach, owes some background check to the investors, be they the alumni or the taxpayers. And if I or a parent or guardian of mine was paying $20,000-$50,000+++ a year for college, I’d like to know that my fellow students are on the up and up.

    I suppose that to be fair, a study of the criminal records of all scholarship students should be made to compare with those given sports figures although the striking un-sportsmanship like approach of breaking big or little laws is also part of this story.

  5. Jeremiah Said:

    The sports thing, college or professional, is all about money. Indeed there is little that differentiates the two except the amounts of money involved are larger in the latter.

    I personally believe that colleges should stop being hypocritical about being in the business of “higher education,” which sports most certainly are not, get out of sports and go back to teaching. They then could, instead, license their logos to the pros, to maintain their revenue streams. That way no one would care if they hired criminals to work for them. On the other hand, interestingly, the most effective pro teams go to considerable lengths to vet their recruits for “character.” They believe too much money is at stake not to. The least effective often overlook criminal records and generally are losers.

    I’ve seen the corruption of politics first hand and up close. Again money is the key to the behavior of most politicians as it always has been.

    Winning is everything is another way of saying survival is everything. Darwinism again reigns supreme. The way to change this is make survival dependent on something other than winning, and that is not easy.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I like the idea of licensing college logos to make money. However, millions would disagree that sports don’t belong in school or college. Training requires focus and strategy, stamina, good conduct and teamwork–all sorts of qualities that students can take with them for the rest of their lives.

    And you’d have to think of something else alums could cheer for if not their team–school spirit generates funds, far more than licensing might, I bet.

    I wonder what would happen if the sports scholarship money went towards, well, scholarship. Might even the playing field.

    As for winning at all cost, doing whatever it takes, forget about ethics, just get the job, the client, the spot on the team, the prize–those who act this way change their minds, but only when caught. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your hardest and bring in the best minds to achieve the goal, but in the normal course of events, I go with MMD’s philosophy.

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