The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Big Ben, et al.– Part 1

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I’ve been following the Ben Roethlisberger story the last few weeks.  Given his various run-ins with the law since the start of his career, he’s become one of the NFL’s leading thugs, enough so that if he maintains his current rate of thuggery, he’s on track to become an honorary member of the NBA.  It seems that zipping around helmetless on a motorcycle a few years ago and almost being killed in a subsequent accident wasn’t enough to change his mind about his lifestyle choices.

I read last week that Steelers fans are turning on him.  Some have grown tired of his behavior; others feels he’s shaming not only the team, but the owner and his family, as well.  It’s nice to see the Rooney name is so revered in Pittsburgh for all they’ve done with the Steelers and for the city; it’s too bad that they have a stereotypical spoiled athlete to deal with.  I imagine right about now that Pittsburgh (and probably most of western Pennsylvania) is polarized; some blame Roethlisberger for not being accountable for his idiotic behavior; others are excusing him as a victim of repeated concussions who is living out the resultant consequences.

Unfortunately, no matter how bad we think it is with Roethlisberger, it’s probably a lot worse.  We’ve only seen what has leaked out in public.  A motivated reporter or an eager whistleblower could probably uncover a lot more dirt on Big Ben.  I’m certain his behaviors didn’t emerge the moment he signed his contract with the Steelers.  If his story is true to form, there’s probably a river of dirty behaviors and misdeeds flowing behind him.  Given his talents, he’s probably had the benefit of people looking the other way or covering things up all the way back to junior high school.

This feels all too typical.  The thug players are merely the symptoms; football is the disease.

Football is king, and we bow to it.  As a high school teacher, I’ve lived with the impact it has on my career field.  Football turns the wheels of district budgets and takes the lion’s share of money in most every athletic department.

As a teacher, the surest way to advance in many districts is through football.  If you were a standout football player at your high school, there’s a good chance that you can be hired by your high school once you complete a college education and earn teaching credentials.   If you’re inclined to advance into administration, having football on your resume will punch your ticket.  Your name is already familiar to your school board; they may have been hearing it all the way back to when you were a student.  If you’ve proven yourself as a football coach, many times that’s all your local board and administration needs to know that you are a capable and effective leader.  They all too often associate your ability to organize and manipulate teenagers with your ability to lead educated professionals, many of whom have as much or more educational experience than you do.

I had a professor at Ball State who explained his understanding of how our public schools became stuck in the web of football.  The way he saw it, college football players back in the day were commonly enrolled as Education majors, especially Elementary; specifically, Physical Education.  It was thought that those degree areas were easiest to pursue, and wouldn’t offer much worry about studies for students whose time on the football field was more important than their time in the classroom.

He made the argument that it’s easier for a PE teacher to pursue advanced studies and an administration degree because there isn’t intensive paper grading and planning, much less at the elementary level.  So so he has a leg up there.  If he has coached football, that’s another leg up.  Who do you think oft times gets picked when it’s time to fill administrative positions?  The familiar face, ‘natch.  If the superintendent happens to be a rah-rah football guy, you can bet that his bias is going to trickle down through the ranks to teachers who were hired for football moreso than education.


Written by seeker70

May 10, 2010 at 7:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] it up until about two years ago.  I’ve written about both these ideas in the past (here and here), but here I am considering both of them again.  It feels awkward, but come this afternoon, […]

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