'The Bad News Bears' - A Commentary | KERA News

'The Bad News Bears' - A Commentary

Dallas, TX – I'm outraged. I thought that the years since Richard Nixon had sanded away all capacity for the emotion, but the scandal at Baylor University has reawakened that feeling. This series of events demonstrates everything anyone needs to know about the corruption that surrounds us.

Dave Bliss? Pack him off to jail today. This is the easy part. Here's the thing: this month, I began my fourth year as an adjunct professor at SMU. Originally, I took the gig for one semester as a favor to a friend. I've stayed because of the kids. Nothing in my life would have prepared me for how much I love my students. They're smart, inventive, funny, and they keep me feeling younger than I have a right to expect. But their most surprising characteristic is their vulnerability. They may be 20 or 21, and in many ways more sophisticated than previous generations, but at heart they have an innocence that is both a hopeful sign for our future and a little frightening for those entrusted with guiding them. I've made many bad decisions in my life and some questionable ethical choices, but I would rather die than betray my students, and from hanging out with other professors it's apparent that most of them feel the same way. They're like our own kids, but because they're not we can be more objective and probably better mentors to them.

But most professors meet their students on the first day of class. Coaches recruit them from high school, winning the confidence of the kids and their parents, promising to stand in for those parents as mentors and protectors as their children move from high school toward real life - or the pros - whichever occurs. Coaches sell their school, their program, themselves, and building confidence with the parents is all the more important with minority student athletes, many of whom are the first in their families to have a shot at higher education. A kid in Bliss' program was murdered, and the coach, that scumbag, was caught on tape trying to cover up illegal payments to the dead player by falsely suggesting that he was a drug dealer. Bliss was caught on tape! Committing felonies and betraying those kids. Treat him like the child abuser that he is - send him to prison and make certain that he's never allowed around young people again.

Bliss is a no-brainer. More troubling is the case of Baylor President Robert Sloan. At first he defended his coach, then he jettisoned him, and now he's circling the wagons. Like I said, I'm outraged. It's an emotion borne of too many years watching embattled politicians and corporate executives behave exactly as Sloan is doing now. If I had to bet, he'll probably "resign" after whatever "blue ribbon panel" he puts together exonerates him from wrongdoing. He should save everyone the trouble by resigning now. A murder, a cover up and God knows what other kinds of corruption occurred on his watch. Baylor, get this guy out of there, leave the Big 12 for some conference more suited to your size and academic standards and start focusing on your most important job: helping your students through guidance and example.

Like I said, I'm outraged. You know? In this case, it's not an altogether bad feeling.


Spencer Michlin is a writer from Dallas.