Giving the Hail Mary pass a whole new connotation

I read Charles Clotfelter’s very thoughtful, data-rich, book about college sports (mostly football, of course) this weekend. It has a whole chapter reflecting on the extraordinary manifestations of fan loyalty to this or that team, including lifetime allegiance beginning not just as an undergrad but at birth and imbued by family, and some confusion between who you are and what team you root for, but he never works out the parallel with religion.

The NY Times, however, connects the dots in its review of the slimy trail of denial, coverup, and malfeasance (it’s illegal not to report sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement in Pennsylvania) right up to the President’s office, that  prosecutors  found when they looked under the rock at Penn State.

Not to worry; the football program is not at risk, indeed, the team moved up four places in the rankings this weekend despite the awkward news.  The bishop, formally titled president of the university, rushed to declare his support of the indicted AD and VP for administration and will pay their legal bills, and  the revered  pope of the Penn State church (not  indicted, even though he seems to have known about the problem and done the least he could about it), offers a little homily  to the faithful:

I understand that people are upset and angry, but let’s be fair and let the legal process unfold. In the meantime, I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are.

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.

2 thoughts on “Giving the Hail Mary pass a whole new connotation”

  1. Book suggestion appreciated. While I am still a root-for-the-home-team sports fan, I have been influenced by the thinking of the noted sports philosopher Jerry Seinfeld. He observes sagely that most fans are rooting not for the people on the field, but for the laundry — meaning of course the uniforms. Five years from now I will cheer for the young folks, as of now not identified, who will then wear Wisconsin Badger red, but with a bit more perspective than I once might have had.

  2. Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch”, an autobiography as an Arsenal (soccer) fan, is superb on the psychology of fandom.

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