Semi-pro athletes, our moral lodestars

If you still aren’t sure about how completely big-money sports have corrupted universities, today’s WaPo rundown on how the University of Missouri–which is full of philosophers, sociologists, organizational behavior professors, furious students, and what-all other sources of insight–figured out it needed new leadership should knock some scales from your eyes.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

5 thoughts on “Semi-pro athletes, our moral lodestars”

  1. That's a double-edged sword you're swinging there. The university has problems it was failing to address, and the ones who had some leverage — admittedly disproportionate leverage — threw down the only gauntlet they had…..and wow, it actually worked! Not to say the resignation will end racism on campus. Quite the reverse, I bet there will be some very ugly fraternity and alumnae backlash, not to mention the current uproar in the Libertarian National Front media machine over allowing those damn scholarship n****rs to get rid of a Nice White Racist Man. But without the players recognizing the outsized influence of Division 1 Football, nothing whatsoever would have been done to start addressing the corrosive atmosphere on campus (and throughout the state, ahem).

    So yeah, I guess I'm saying that thank goodness those semi-pro athletes were our moral lodestars. Think how many Curt Schillings and Roger Clemenses and Jack Kemps and Tim Tebows would never have used their influence to speak out.

    1. My point is that (i) if it took football players to fix this all the other governance and participatory systems must have failed big time (ii) if football players have this much clout compared to everyone else there, something is really messed up, never mind that they acted for a good cause..

      1. Claro, claro, I never misapprehended you to be suggesting "damn those pesky negro linebackers for potentially undermining the BCS rankings!" Still, there's a certain parallel with, let's say, Al Haig and Jeanne Kirkpatrick never saying a damn thing against apartheid, and boycotts by Sting and Elton John and futbol teams being more important to its demise, at a certain level. You can say that's damn sad that the U.S. government did diddly while pop spokespersons led the charge, but I'm not sure lamenting the power of shallow pop-stars is the best take-away. It's sorta shooting the messenger. I'm sticking to my guns here, slow clap for the football team.

  2. Big time college football and men's basketball are seriously screwy and defective systems They are nominally amateur extra-curricular activities, but incorporate semi-professional developmental leagues, and a big-money sports industry to which most of our best universities are joined at the hip — some more enthusiastically than others. This strange system arises from a century-long slow motion blunder on the part of American higher education. It is, however, so deeply entrenched economically and culturally that getting to something better is just this side of impossible. Most "reform" proposals amount to rearranging of deck chairs, often suggested by people who don't even seem to realize that they are on a ship. The current Missouri events are just another symptom. Good luck to all.

  3. I realize I am becoming a bitter crank, and that in general African Americans have a significant number of completely legit beefs…

    but what's the nexus between this one uni president, and a bunch of bad things that — afaik — may or may not have been done by students?

    I'm not getting it. Apparently he didn't do enough to make students of color feel comfortable — which I agree, *is* part of his job — but why is the answer to get rid of him? Just make a list of things you want done and then have a hunger strike based on that. To me this just looks like asking for a head on a platter just to get the attention. I begin to have doubts about this new generation of activists. They don't seem fully baked.

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