Reply to Mulcahy and McCormick
By William C. Dowling
Last week a New York Times
article about my just-published book, Confessions of
a Spoilsport, set off a bit of a firestorm at Rutgers. Athletics
Director Robert E. Mulcahy was pleased to label a remark I'd
made in the Times a "blatantly racist statement."
President Richard L. McCormick denounced its "racist implication."
A few New Jersey sportswriters joined the chorus. Soon the furor
was making national news.
response by a distinguished African-American commentator:
"Right on, Brother Dowling"
Here's what I said: "If you were giving a scholarship to
an intellectually brilliant kid who happens to play a sport,
that's fine. But they give it to a functional illiterate who
can't read a cereal box, then make him spend 50 hours a week
on physical skills. That's not opportunity. If you want to give
financial help to minorities, go find the ones who are at the
library after school."
McCormick got traction for their racism charge by trying to portray
my remark as being about Rutgers athletes. But as dozens of examples in Confessions
of a Spoilsport
as the Times reporter was aware at the time -- I've double-checked
this with him -- I wasn't talking about Rutgers athletes. I was
describing the huge number of academically deficient Div IA athletes
nationally whose only "educational opportunity" amounts
to the chance to get bogus courses, fake credits, forged transcripts,
and the thousand other dodges sports-factory schools use to keep
their winning football and basketball teams eligible.
Like many people, I think
the claim of educational opportunity for minority youths is a
cover-up for a retrograde booster subculture that uses
minority kids for its own brutally cynical ends, and then throws
all but a tiny handful aside. A major theme of my book is that
Div IA athletics is the way through which this booster subculture
asserts what I call symbolic ownership over state universities,
marginalizing the brightest and most intellectually engaged students
on campus. As Confessions of a Spoilsport shows in detail,
that same booster subculture is well known for attacking, often
viciously, any perceived threat to its dominance. In conducting
what the Wall Street Journal called their "campaign
of character assassination" against me, Mulcahy, McCormick,
and Qualls were simply operating as spokesmen for that subculture