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Phillip's blog: Gaming the system

It never ceases to amaze me when people who have so much risk it all for so little.

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

If a college coach gives a player extra benefits or arranges for him to get extra benefits, he has turned control of his professional life over to a college student who already has shown himself to be willing to break the rules for his own benefit.

If a politician becomes involved in an extramarital affair or, as in the most recent case, sends sexually suggestive photographs to women he doesn’t even know, he has given away control of his political future and his reputation as a person.

Why would former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel be so short-sighted as to flagrantly violate NCAA rules to win a few games? And I shake my head every time I hear it was because of he cared so much for his players. He particularly cared for those who could help him win.

We don’t yet know the outcome of the latest scandal at Oregon, but why would Chip Kelly or other coaches hand Willie Lyles or his ilk the ability to destroy their careers?

Why would Tiger Woods, perhaps the most world’s most famous athlete, with a beautiful wife and family, risk it all to gallivant with a porn queen or numerous other women?

I believe powerful people often come to the conclusion that they aren’t like the rest of us. They believe they can do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. When they are caught, they stay in their make-believe world and try to lie their way out of it.

In college athletics, coaches who make millions of dollars a year frequently pay for very little. People wanting access give them food, furniture, clothes, arrange exotic vacations, you name it. They are greeted as heroes at every stop. Most have the character to see through all that and be committed to doing the right thing. But as in any walk of life, there are those willing to game the system.

I'm not talking here about coaches who see a player in real need and try to help. I'm not talking about boosters. I'm not talking about a coach who makes an extra telephone call or sends an illegal text message.

I'm talking about those who believe the rules don't apply to them. They are the ones who make everyone in their game look bad.

What’s the answer? I fear there really isn’t one.

We know only about those who are caught, and it’s reasonable to assume that some never do get caught. They win their games, rake in their millions and, I guess, rationalize it by telling themselves they are just doing what everyone else does.

In athletics and elsewhere, that’s the world in which we live. Some people have integrity. Some don’t. So it will always be.

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