|Strippers! Alcohol! Younger women!|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
As much as I believe Larry Eustachy and Mike Price suffered just fates, let's don't forget that sexual morality and responsible drinking have never really been a staple of the sports world.
And I'm not sure that this recent injection of morality, backed up by firings of two high-profile coaches, will accomplish much good, unless you think a dramatic increase of hypocrisy is what's needed in college athletics.
Cheap sex, cheaper beer and male sports participation have locked themselves in a bunker deeper and more secure than anything Saddam Hussein could imagine. The locker room is America's last X-rated playground for men. Why do you think Hootie would rather die than let Martha in?
The question isn't whether this safe haven for immorality needs to be destroyed -- of course it does. The question is: Can it be destroyed? No. Not without divine intervention.
And trust me, there was nothing divine about the decisions made by Iowa State University and the University of Alabama. Iowa State canned Eustachy because he wasn't winning anymore. Alabama whacked Price because he'd never won a SEC title and he lacked discretion. Neither man was offed because his ability to lead young men was compromised. If all it takes is excessive drinking and wild sex to weaken man's ability to lead other men, then the American military system should collapse any day now.
Price's and Eustachy's embarrassing dismissals weren't a call for improved behavior. "Don't get caught" was the message heard throughout the sports world, which, in effect, means slip deeper into a mass state of hypocrisy.
I don't want to paint with too broad a brush, but in my experience a good percentage of the people involved in sports -- jocks, coaches, support personnel, sportswriters and broadcasters -- occasionally find themselves in the positions that got Eustachy and Price in so much trouble. If you're involved in college sports and like to drink -- and I don't care what age you are -- there's a damn good chance you're going to find yourself liquored up at a campus bar or party hitting on some sorority girl. It happens. (That's not a confession: I have a drink four or five times a year, tops.)
Now, if you're remotely high-profile, you might not be stupid enough to pose for pictures. And you might be smart enough to do your flirting and boozing on your home campus (where your success rate is likely to be higher). When Larry Brown was coach at Kansas, he was well-known among Kansas sorority girls. But he won, so everyone pretty much ignored his nightlife. I don't bring this up to embarrass Brown. I don't think he has anything to be embarrassed about. He's not the only man who likes younger women. Hell, I know a strikingly handsome, calorically challenged, 30-something sports writer/radio talk-show host/ESPN panelist who admires a recent Kansas graduate. (That's a confession.) And we all know that some college professors are not above fraternizing with the student (hot) bodies.
A good percentage -- let's say 75 percent -- of the people I know in sports have occasionally whooped it up at a strip club. The overwhelming majority of these people never "Roll Tide!" with a stripper. But, depending upon how much alcohol they've consumed and the current state of their marriage or relationship, they might try to get the Tide rolling back at their hotel. Mike Price would've fit in perfectly at this year's Final Four in New Orleans. The French Quarter strip clubs were a virtual who's who of college coaches and media. (At least that's what I heard.)
Seriously, strippers are as much a part of the sports culture as cheerleaders. Strippers are an integral part of the college recruiting process. Just this past week, an experienced college recruiter from a family with a deep involvement in college football shared this enlightening story:
"A mother thanked me this (recruiting season), because our school was the only school that didn't take her son to a strip club on his visit. The kid didn't pick our school. I was pissed. Why didn't we take him to a club?"
During his time in Kansas City, my old friend Derrick Thomas headquartered at a gentlemen's club called Diamond Joe's. You could find Thomas (and many of his former teammates) at the club four or five days a week. The club has a Derrick Thomas dinner special on its menu. I picked up more good information about the Chiefs chatting with Thomas (and friends) at Diamond Joe's than I ever did inside the locker room. It's amazing how talkative players are when you get them in a setting that's natural and comfortable.
Now that cell phones have cameras, let me be the first to suggest that cell phones be banned from all night clubs. That's about the only productive change we can hope for as a result of this mess.
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at email@example.com.