In early summer I wrote about Roger Angell and his books about baseball. It seems like yesterday that St. Louis won the World Series, and it was yesterday the NBA settled their differences. Now, it’s all football, high school, pro, or college, all the time. We are in the week after the UVa/VaTech football game – many of us might want to forget that one – and the week before college bowl matchup announcements.
But the major sports story is that of the Penn State football sex scandal. The latter has our attention and overshadows all other sports news. The scandal has its horror, but it has forced fans to focus on Penn State’s football culture, its tailgate parties, and the Joe Paterno fanaticism. I heard one woman from State College, Pa – quite a name for the town where Penn State lives – admit ashamedly that she didn’t know a lot about football, but she could never say that to her family or friends. As she said, “it would be like telling my sister who lives in Pittsburgh that I don’t like the Steelers. She would not invite me to Christmas dinner.” (Hey, that’s my team!)
I love Roger Angell’s writing which is very literary, but for succinct thought-provoking sports talk Frank Deford is the man. In his “SI.Com” article of November 16, 2011 he gives us his views of the Penn State sex scandal and of how the love of football can cloud one’s vision so that we can overlook even the most terrible of things.
Penn State is no different from other football campuses. Football rules at Louisiana State University, University of Nebraska, and University of Alabama – to name only a few. I am sure you can name others even if you are not a football fan. UVa would love to be in the same league. What do you think would happen here then?
Scandal is not the word used when one speaks about the young men who play this dangerous sport at some universities without gaining much of an education or any other remuneration. Too many of us love this sport and its trappings too much to delve deeply into its darker sides.
Most of the books about football tell us about the special game and dynamic men who play it. To delve more into the football culture you can try the following reads:
Bissinger, H. G. “Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream.”
Watterson, John. “College Football: History, Spectacle, and Contraversy.”
Frank Deford’s Books
~ The Reluctant Blogger