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US priorities all wrong
by Jake Highton
Jun 17, 2012 | 1123 views | 2 2 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
College football should be banned but it won’t be. It is too deeply engrained in Americana. As is so often the case, America has its priorities backward.

Europe is quite different. Soccer is wildly popular there but it is kept in its place: athletic clubs.

Buzz Bissinger, author of “Friday Night Lights,” a damning account of a city’s obsession with high school football, rightly says “college football has no academic purpose.”

Some college football coaches make obscene millions. Alumni judge their alma mater on the quality of the football team not academic excellence. States constantly boost tuition while slashing funds for higher education.

College players at major football powers tend to have low graduation rates. At Florida State it’s 64 percent, Auburn 63 and at Oklahoma a disgraceful 44.

College sports in which most athletes graduate, such as swimming and track, are often eliminated to “save” football and basketball.

Meanwhile, sports betting, which is not only harmless but adds spice to a fan’s life, is anathema to the powers that be. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says betting and the NFL don’t mix.

That’s yesteryear thinking.

Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press sports columnist, argues strenuously for legalizing sports betting.

“There’s nothing criminal about making a bet,” Dahlberg writes. “Wall Street traders do the same thing every day only they’re betting on companies instead of teams.

“Legitimize it as in England where there are betting shops on almost every corner. Even soccer stadiums have betting kiosks for fan convenience.”

In short, legalize betting in America too.

Cliché corner

I am a common scold about the language. But I can’t help it. I have taught correct usage in my journalism classes for five decades.

One writer uses a word or a phrase and every writer uses them. Such as:

“At the end of the day,” “back in the day,” “change the world,” “going to the next level,” “mojo” and  “existential.” “It’s not rocket science” and “cobbled together.” Clichés all.

“Narrative,” “double down,” “shout-out” and “push back.” “Meme,” “to call out,” “horrific” and “usual suspects.” Clichés all.

“Poster child,” “wakeup call,” “enabler,” “in play,” “faux” (“faux friends”) and “the end of the world as we know it.” Clichés all.

More clichés:  “Signature” as in “Cuba’s signature drink.“ Or, “The president’s signature legislation.” Icon? Everything is an icon or iconic.

Also: “Well” as in: “Mormons practice a lot of really, well, religious religion”…“Er” as in: “Can you diagram this Sarah Palin word-salad, er, sentence?” Clichés all.

The cliché de jour is “shuttered” rather than closed, “drawdown” instead of withdraw. Everything is “framed” or “book-ended.”

And that detestable “of course.” Example: “The bill is unconstitutional, of course.” Or, “Of course not everyone agrees.” (I defy you to read the New York Times any day without finding that useless “of course.”)

Then there’s the lame modifier “rather” in “rather beautiful” or “rather shaky victory.” “Like I said.” It should be as I said.

A San Francisco Chronicle writer refers to “Oscar Wilde’s infamous play ‘Salome.’ ” It was infamous only in the warped minds of the British censors.

“Thanks to an infamous ruling by the Supreme Court.” An infamous ruling should hardly be thanked.

And then we read constantly that someone “famously said” or “infamously said.” Leave out the adverb.

Online writers are weak on grammar. They often don’t know the difference between “to lay off” (verb) and “layoff” (noun). The committee held its meeting not their.

Newspaper copyeditors let these redundancies get into print:  “primary election,” “currently writing a book” and “young teenager.”

Oh, and teenager talk: “ I was drinking Fantas like twice a day. And I was thinking like, whoa, that’s a lot of sugar.”

But then I know highly intelligent people who cannot get through a sentence without at least two “you knows.” I also know intellectuals who cannot utter a single sentence without lacing it with obscenities.

Former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, who is no intellectual, recently emerged from his cave to launch an obscenity-filled diatribe against those who oppose his plan to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Simpson, needless obscenities aside, shows his utter contempt for people dependent on Social Security and Medicare or will be in the future. In other words, most Americans.

Speaking for the 1 percent, he demands that everyone “leave the rich alone.”

Writers talk about left and right viewpoints as if they were equal. They are not. There is almost no left in America.

The House has 435 members. Just 13 of them are leftists — to America’s shame.

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be contacted at jake@unr.edu.
Comments
(2)
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NVCondor
|
June 17, 2012
Perhaps Jake, the Journalism teacher, should do some research.

If he did, he would learn that student-athlete's graduation rates are much higher than the non-athletes.

JackOsmond
|
June 17, 2012
The first sentence, "College football should be banned, but it won't be."

You didn't need the, "but it won't be." Technically it is proper grammar, however the use of "be" twice in such close proximity causes a flow problem. Let's face it, you are not Bill Shakespeare, and this is not, "Hamlet."

To be or not to be...LOL OMG
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