Some scattered ideas I’ve had recently.
The owners in the NBA locked out the players because they weren’t making as much money as they would like to; they claim in fact that they’re losing money. This is not the players’ fault; their income is locked, and so it must be the case that the owners are spending too much somewhere else. It’s even unclear that the owners are really losing money when you consider everything that goes into owning a team, like the benefit from selling the team and benefits to other businesses. But here’s something we do know for a fact: many NBA players are broke within years of leaving the league; a decent number are broke immediately. Obviously players’ costs are too high. Shouldn’t the players complain they aren’t making enough? Players’ costs aren’t the owners’ fault, but we just said the vice versa is also true and that didn’t stop the owners from starting the lockout. And we know for sure that players are losing money because they have to file for bankruptcy and sell their possessions; they are definitely losing money on the bottom line. If the owners are losing money and in desperate condition, shouldn’t they be selling their possessions, or at least getting out of the league?
John Clayton picked Jim Harbaugh as his top coach halfway through the season because he’s in a really easy division (I think; I don’t really know what his comment meant). Is that really the best way to decide who the best coach is? Harbaugh didn’t lobby to get the 49ers into the NFC West or turn the rest of the division into a mess. The Texans shouldn’t get extra credit because Peyton Manning got hurt and their division turned into a cakewalk, should they? If coaches get any credit, it should be for driving their teams well above expectations from before the season. If we use the Vegas team win over/under lines to index expectation, the best coach would come from perhaps the Bengals (expected 5.5 wins), Packers (11.5 wins), Texans (8.5 wins; probably would have been higher if the extent of Manning’s injury had been more clear), or (oops) the 49ers (7.5 wins). If the Bengals get to the 11 wins I think they might, I would lean that way even if the 49ers get to 12 or 13 wins because the Bengals will have gotten there in a much tougher division. I would also give the Packers a look even though they were expected to be good, because going 14-2 or 15-1 is possible and it’s hard to move up that much when expectations are already high.
I have to admit I’m sympathetic for Joe Paterno. It isn’t because I don’t think he made a mistake, but because he is taking all the flak and no one appears to have much sympathy for the position he was in. There’s a list of people who made mistakes of omission in this case, and they are all presumably paying for it, but the only person I’ve heard about in the last three days is Paterno. I’m not sure that anyone is thinking about the decision that he had to make, either. From what I understand, a grad student came to his office and said that he saw something happening with Sandusky. It doesn’t sound like words like ‘rape’ or ‘attack’ were used, and it happened the day before. The person accused was a long-time friend of Paterno’s, a guy who was a player on his team 30 years earlier, a guy who founded a charity for children. Even if untrue, allegations about something like child abuse, especially rape, can ruin people forever. It must have been very hard for Paterno to decide if such a thing could be true, to think about what the right thing to do might be. He could have decided that he knew his friend and it was obviously a mistake. He could have confronted Sandusky and asked what happened. He could have called the police and reported a second-hand story that the witness obviously didn’t follow up on, which could have ruined his friend’s life if untrue. In the end he told the next level up.
Again, I’m not saying that was the right choice or the best choice; Paterno could have pressed the issue or at least followed up later on with the administration (although I have to say, I would be surprised if they were allowed to tell him anything even if they were following up). But it must have been a terrible position to be in, and I think it’s a little bit of a shame that many people will now think of Paterno as an enabler and drag him through the mud without taking a second to put themselves in his position. The other people involved, namely McQueary, Curley, and Schultz, will also be vilified but none are as famous as Paterno and they will likely be forgotten within a year. Paterno will be talked about as long as people talk about college football, and now those discussions will always be tainted.