Is Derrick Rose pure, dagnasty evil?

Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times sure seems to think so. He further suggests that anyone who isn’t horrified by the “fraudulent test score” allegations — in addition to the fresh allegations that a grade was changed on his high school transcript — can go “live in your world of beer-can-on-the-belly sports relativism.”

Personally, I think Mr. Telander needs to get off his high horse.

I’m not saying that cheating is okay. Far from it. I want this investigation to run its course until all the facts are known. Furthermore, I want the guilty parties to be punished in accordance with whatever rules and laws are used to govern these activities, and to have steps taken to reduce the likelihood that something like this can happen again.

Notice how I said “reduce the likelihood” rather than “eliminate forever”? Because cheating in its many, many forms will go on forever in amateur sports…and professional sports for that matter. It happens in small ways (such as, say, flopping) and it happens on far grander scales (as with this cheating scandal). It happens everywhere, all the time. Telander regards this incident as a case of “hypocrisy revealed.” But to me, the true hypocrisy comes from the fact that our society — Telanader included — only jumps to action and outrage when somebody is caught. Derrick Rose, Simeon High, the University of Memphis…they are not the disease, they are symptoms.

I mentioned yesterday that I roomed with a varsity basketball player in college. This guy was a redshirt freshman, a non-player, and you would not believe the number of violations I was witness to during that one semester. Alumni and boosters gave him money and gifts. He was caught stealing (cash, CDs, a security code used for long distance calls, etc.) from other students but got a slap on the wrist. He had a small cadre of people doing his homework for him. By midterm, he had attended maybe handful of classes, so most of his professors failed him due to lack of attendance and kicked him out of their classes. A few calls from an assistant coach later and he was back in every class with a “C” so long as he attended “most” of the rest of his classes and turned in his assignments on time.

I could provide more examples, but you get the idea. Mind you, these allowances were made for a non-player, so you can only imagine what kind of treatment the stars get. I would guess that if someone like Telander devoted himself to some serious and stubborn investigative journalism, he could uncover countless cases of violations both great and small throughout the NCAA. It would literally be like shooting fish in a barrel. Maybe then the American public would be able to truly appreciate the scope of the problem. Maybe then we’d be moved to make real changes to the system, which is corrupt and broken.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, though. It’s much easier to express moral outrage when someone like Derrick Rose gets caught for having cheated on a college entry exam or Barry Bonds gets outed for steroid use. That’s when Joe Public gets to prove how fine and upstanding he is while decrying others for abusing honesty and righteousness.

But guess what? We’re all guilty. We turn a blind eye to the constant inequities of life every day while simultaneously fighting our way to the top of the dogpile covering the few who actually get caught for their wrongdoing. Giving the change in your pocket to a derelict or bringing in a few cans of soup for your company food drive does not mean you’re fighting the homelessness problem. And trying to decimate Derrick Rose for cheating his way into college doesn’t mean you’re waging a war against corruption in the NCAA.

Be upset. Be disappointed. Hope that this mess can be cleaned up and corrected as quickly as possible. But the next time you drive your car in excess of the speed limit or get undercharged at the grocery store without going back to pay the remainder of what you owe, try to remember that even the best of us break the rules. And if you’re not really and truly part of the solution, chances are you’re part of the problem.

The passivity of the general public is what allows the NCAA to sit back and allow these things to happen. The NCAA always seems to be a step behind in sniffing these things out, and even then they still end up missing an awful lot. It’s terrible that Rose and some of his buddies cheated, but it’s just as terrible if not moreso that a faulty system exists that encourages and passively allows such things to occur over and over.

There is a larger system at work here, and it needs to be changed.

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10 Responses to Is Derrick Rose pure, dagnasty evil?

    Wes May 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    DRose is LEAST culpable in all this. Foolish one-and-done rule, Calipari, poor Chi public league education,boosters, hangers-on, NBA Players Association. So Rose doesn’t get into college because of grades/test scores. Options are Europe, the street, junior college, basketball factory prep school? And know what? Even if he did game the system, so what. NCAA and Memphis ready to exploit him and did. He uses the school for exposure and to improve draft status.
    Quid pro quo. And Calipari gets a zillion dollar job.
    This didn’t work out for who???

    Jon May 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    It wouldn’t even be an issue if the NBA didn’t change the rules forcing 1 year of college out of these kids after high school. This one and done college system is ridiculous, and the players know they’re not staying for a degree. The universities and their boosters are the real problem. The NCAA are hypocrites for investigating violations in a broken cash cow system that they enhance year after year. If they really wanted to fix the system they would take away scholarships for new athletes for the next 5 years and additional money for previous seasons when violations existed.

    Brad S. May 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    Well written, Matt.

    I run a small store up here in Michigan. One of the most amusing things that I see on a regular basis is that every one of my customers wants my store to thrive. For it to thrive, it has to make a profit. So, it logically follows that all of my customer want me to make a profit …but on everyone else, just not them.

    I think it stems from our “Age of Entitlement”. If a person feels that they “deserve” something, then that person can justify doing whatever it takes to get it. No longer do we as a nation beleive that success is deserved only after the pre-requisite hard work and doing things the right way.

    Here are just a few examples of entitlement justifications:

    “…I am just one little person who works hard and doesn’t have a lot of money, so it’s no big deal that I just ripped-off this large retail chain.”

    “…I was blessed with talent and I am good enough to be a star in the NBA. That’s my destiny, so whatever I have to do to get there is okay.”

    “…I am sixteen and breathing, so I deserve a new car!”

    (Ok, ok, that last one might be the grumpy reflections of a high school senior who still had to ride the bus, but you get the point.)

    Matt, you are absolutely right about this particular incident being a symptom. But it is not just the NCAA’s problem, it points directly to what I think is America’s biggest problem. They say that a forest fire is nature’s way of renewing the forest. I often worry about how bad America’s “forest fire” is going to need to be before we can all get in the right frame of mind again.

    I don’t know, but I hope we catch fire soon. I can almost feel our country rotting from the inside, just like an old oak tree.

    t-rocc May 29, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    well said, Matt. here’s hoping we can just move past this and continue to appreciate Rose for the player he is.

    john May 29, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    IT IS MUCH WORSE THAN JUST ROSE .. 2 Universities are involved!

    The Chicago Newspapers are over this story. They are not saying if Rose did the Grade Change. They are flat out saying that he was involved.

    And now the newspapers have said that they know who actually who took the SATs. I find that a little hard to believe.

    BUT… this is a summary of what has been reported in the Tribune and Sun papers.

    This is bigger than Memphis and Rose.

    Rose and 3 of his high school team mates worked together to cheat on SATs and to change their grades via a computer system so that the NCAA would get the wrong information so that 3 of the kids could play college basketball.

    There are 2 colleges and the NCAA that are involved. It appears that neither the NCAA that clears the kids to play nor either school nor staff new about this.

    Dan May 29, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    I’m sure Rick Telender never cheated on a test in his life……. yea right. Who is he to hand down his judgement like that?

    Robby Findler May 30, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Well said.

    Keaun May 31, 2009 at 6:44 am #

    Well said Rick Telander needs to get off his high horse. If they know all this information now why didnt they know before. The NCAA needs to stop. If the want recruiting violations to go away allow for these student atheletes to have some type os stipend. And, no it is not enough that they get to go to school for free. They make these schools far more millions than there education cost. The NCAA is a billion dollar industry. If they really wanted things like this to stop the would put the money and resorces behind. This is always going to go on as long as the NCAA operates the way it does.

    Kevin June 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    Well written Matt –

    It’s just like the steriods scandel..
    Everyone gets upset at the players – when it’s really MLB and the players union who decided not police things that are at fault.

    Jay June 2, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    I agree with you Matt, the reality is who needs a freaking SAT score or classes anyway. The only reason D. Rose went to Memphis is to fulfill the NBA stupid 1 year of college rule, so he let the NCAA exploit him for a year to get his NBA millions. Did you see the ratings on that Tennessee/Memphis game? I was in Tennessee visiting at the time and it was NUTS! If you are not trying to graduate, guaranteed millions (with insurance even if he got hurt),why in the hell do you need to take a credible SAT or go to classes? Makes absolutely no sense.

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