Cart is pulling the horse

It is probably a good thing that veteran official Bruce McCoy has elected to retire his whistle and his flag after working more than 11,000 sporting events in the Mountain State because the long time Wood County Schools teacher would probably flag this column for “piling on”.

But, after watching, and listening, to the events that have taken place in Piscataway, N.J., over the past week, one can only wonder if the cart is pulling the horse when it comes to athletics and their place in our society.

Up until the disgusting display by Scarlet Knights’ head basketball coach Mike Rice, the most often quoted four-word phrase belonged to Strother Martin. If the name doesn’t catch your eye, maybe the 1967 movie in which he used the phrase will.

Playing the role of ‘Captain’ in the movie “Cool Hand Luke”-the warden of a prison/work camp-Martin uttered the phrase on more than one occasion when dealing with the movie’s primary star, Paul Newman.

“What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate,” said Martin. “Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.”

The line is often misquoted over the years, being shortened to “A failure to communicate”.

We may now have a four-word phrase to replace that one following Rutgers University president Dr. Robert Barchi’s press conference in which he attempted to explain why it took the Big East member months to come to the conclusion that Rice should be fired for the events displayed on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

Given the public outcry towards the events shown during the 30-minute clip of compiled practices, Barchi’s first explanation as to why Rice was not immediately fired was to explain that there was “a failure to process”.

One only has to look at the state of collegiate athletes these days to see that Barchi isn’t alone in his lack of knowledge when it comes to his school’s athletic department. Auburn is back in the news for possible violations that include grade changing as well as giving players money to keep them at the school.

The list doesn’t end there and one would have to be naive to believe that the names of several other prominent programs won’t join that list before all is said and done. And, it doesn’t end at the college level.

Just look around (or check out the social media pages on the Internet) and you will see high schools, junior highs/middle schools, even youth programs that are being exposed on a near-daily basis for behavior that used to be unacceptable.

Recruiting has become synonymous with success. You can’t even get the SSAC to come up with a method that would better ensure that the eight best basketball teams in the state reach the championship tournament because of administrators around the Mountain State that want to maintain “regional representation” in the event.

Can matters improve?

Only once educators understand that athletics are the cart.