Skip to comments.The High Cost of Favoritism (Thomas Sowell)
Posted on 12/09/2008 5:03:07 PM PST by jazusamo
O.J. Simpson has attracted less attention by being declared "guilty" in Nevada than he did by being declared "not guilty" in California. Yet his story is more than the tragedy of one man.
O.J. is not the first star athlete or movie star, political leader or pacesetter in some other fields to fall from the heights to the depths. Often they are people who have taken enormous risks that were completely unnecessary and with little pay-off.
Think about it: What did Richard Nixon have to gain by setting up the kinds of illegal operations that finally cost him the presidency and could have landed him in prison, without President Ford's pardon?
Why would star quarterback Michael Vick have risked a multimillion dollar career for the sake of staging dog fights?
Why would Leona Helmsley have risked going to jail for tax evasion, when she could easily have paid the taxes out of her vast fortune?
O.J. Simpson was one of the greatest players in the history of football. He had lucrative commercial contracts. He was a hero to many. What could have led him to take reckless chances that risked it all, whether in California or in Nevada?
We may never really know. But what seems to run through many stories of people who take huge risks for small pay-offs is a sense that the rules simply do not apply to them.
Leona Helmsley said that paying taxes was for "the little people." Nixon apparently thought that he was above the law.
While individuals can have such attitudes in any walk of life, star athletes in certain sports seem to be especially prone to regard rules as not applying to them.
It is not hard to see why. Those who star in sports that are big in educational institutions football and basketball being classic examples can start having the rules bent in their favor as early as high school.
Everyone wants a winning team and bending a few rules for those who can make that happen may seem like a small price to pay. At colleges and universities where football or basketball are big time, ensuring passing grades for players on those teams is a major priority.
This can take the form of having special academic advisors to help college athletes maintain grade averages sufficient to keep them eligible to play. These advisors are often separate from those advising other students with their academic work, and have their offices in separate buildings, just as the athletes themselves are often housed separately from other students.
The idea that college athletes in big-time sports that attract thousands of fans to a stadium, and millions of viewers on television, are just students who happen to play a game is belied in many ways.
Players on Division I football teams spend an average of more than 40 hours a week on their sport. That does not leave a lot of time for academics.
This can lead to athletes being steered to easier courses or courses taught by faculty members who give them a special break. From time to time, grade-changing scandals have erupted from a zeal to keep some star player eligible to play.
In ways large and small, star athletes in big-time college sports learn early in life the cynical message that rules apply to other people. This special treatment can be found even in the Ivy League, where sports are not supposed to be as big a deal as in the Big Ten.
Perhaps the wonder is not that a number of stars in professional football and basketball develop an attitude that they are above the rules, and even above the law, but that others do not.
Special treatment for anybody, in any walk of life, for whatever reason, is a double-edged sword that can end up cutting against them as well as for them. For professional athletes, especially those who have risen out of poverty to wealth and fame, to plunge themselves back into the depths seems a special tragedy to them and to impressionable young people who look up to them as role models.
As usual, well said, well spoken
Good article, but I think OJ is a psycopath and would have done all this famous or not.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
You could well be right about him being a psycopath. From what came out at the murder trial about the way he treated Nicole prior to the killing it points to it.
When Vick tries to make his comeback, he's going to find out that most football fans are also dog fans and aren't going to appreciate a player who threw dogs to the dogs.
Thanks for the ping jaz. Appreciate your efforts.
Another thought provoking article by Dr. Sowell. One need stop and think about it. Often these thoughts of Dr. Sowells on various topics pass us by. We tend to read something, and just go onto the next topic without looking at the depth of meaning. Dr. Sowell looks beyond, and sees what we miss, then calls our attention to the matter.
I for one appreciate having my cage rattled once in awhile.
I don't think O.J. spent a lot time weighing the benefits and risks of sawing Nicole's head off.
Yes, RQSR, he is so correct on this matter it isn’t funny.
Him taking this back to high school is insightful because with most all really good athletes the coaches have pointed them out to scouts and also try to keep the ones prone to trouble out of it, as they should.
You’re right, all he could think of was that she crossed him when she left him, he’s nuts.
“where sports are not supposed to be as big a deal as in the Big Ten. “
Just as a side point, but it’s not only the ‘Big Ten’. It’s the PAC 10, SEC, MAC, and ALL the rest. Being from the mid-west, I’m a bit touchy about the ‘Big Ten’ always being made out to be the conference with all the problems (ala ESPN and other sports commentators) and the rest get a pass for the same things! Must be that pesky ‘justice for all’ side of me.
Pete Rose is a great example and to this day I don’t believe he feels he did anything wrong. After all, he claims he never bet against his own team.
To add a few more examples-
the police officers who broke into the home of Pedro Navarro Oregon to look for drugs sans warrant, and shot him in his bed.
the police officers who shot an unarmed Sean Bell who was attending his own bachelor party.
This was posted again today, in the Contra Costa Times.
The sentence that ‘got’ me was this:
Leona Helmsley said that paying taxes was for “the little people.”
Leona Helmsley left 8 BILLION dollars in trust for her dogs.
She skipped every tax she could. Would she have paid her tax dollars to support all these bail-outs?
“Paying taxes is for the ‘little’ people.” Guess I’m now a ‘little people’.
I saw Archie Griffin on with hannity tonite. A two time Heisman winner, he was very grounded, articulate and personable. He attributed his not getting carried away with fame to having a great family (parents) and believing in God.
He was very impressive, and i’m not an Ohio state fan.
You and me both. I can’t a single good thing about Leona Helmsley so I won’t say anything.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.