Partisanship seems to pollute all subjects

Sitting presidents probably expect to have their every word and deed ripped apart by their political rivals.

But when the president can't even talk about sports without it becoming a political hot potato, perhaps things have gone too far.

As he has for the past two years, President Barack Obama spent 10 minutes on ESPN last week filling his NCAA basketball tournament picks on TV.

His choices were not particularly daring or insightful: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and Pittsburgh in the Final Four, with Kansas winning.

The reaction was immediate. No, not from slighted sports fans or Las Vegas odds makers. From other politicians.

"How," implored Reince Priebus, "can Barack Obama say he is leading when he puts his NCAA bracket over the budget and other pressing issues." Priebus is Republican National Committee chairman.

Others said it was bad form for the president to be thinking about basketball when he should be thinking about the federal budget, the violence in Libya or the disaster in Japan.

Never mind that Obama opened his ESPN segment with a plea for those watching to open their wallets and make contributions to the charities helping the Japanese people.

The criticism is oddly similar to the heat first lady Michelle Obama has received for trying to get U.S. children to eat more vegetables and get more exercise.

That earned her a blistering from Sarah Palin for meddling in Americans' food habits.

Is there really any hope for a country that is so polarized we can't even agree across party lines that kids should eat spinach and get some exercise?

So long as we're talking sports, Education Commissioner Arne Duncan let some air out of the old roundball last week with a column in the Washington Post.

Duncan pointed out that college basketball players have the lowest graduation rates among all NCAA sports.

Ten years ago, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics proposed that teams that failed to graduate half their players should be ineligible for postseason play.

Half? That's a standard?

Apparently, a decade later, many teams can't even meet that right-handed layup of a goal.

Among the teams failing to meet even that lowly measure are Syracuse and Kansas State.

And it's not as if poor graduation rates are the necessary cost of fielding an excellent team. As Duncan pointed out, two of last year's finalists, Duke and Butler, both had "outstanding" academic records.

And then there's this: Women's teams have much better records. The University of Connecticut women's team graduates more than 90 percent of its black and white players.

The men's team graduates about 50 percent, but only 25 percent of its black players.

The NCAA now has a shamefully low standard: A team must graduate fewer than 40 percent of its players for six consecutive years to potentially be ineligible for post-season play.

Clearly, that needs to change.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

Partisanship seems to pollute all subjects

Rex , 11.03.21 19:40 HST • 
Q: Is there really any hope for a country that is so polarized we can't even agree across party lines that kids should eat spinach and get some exercise? A; Yes . No one bring up Sarah Palin's children now , plz , and what they may have or may have not eaten that made them they way they are
Hope springs eternal in the hearts of men ( and women ) <3
Aloha from the birth State of our President and go Huskies , UCONN women ? 

Jack Tetreault's picture

Good Old Days

20 years from now the older generation will be saying things are not as they were in the good old days 20 years ago. It is said that when the tombs in Egypt were opened up one of the translations read something like this " The youth of today are going to the dogs". Like our music we old folks are stuck in the past . I have confidence in our young and that our future is bright. How long the the caveman live? How long do we live today? What changed that we are so much more healthy? Life gets better and better.

We will discard what doesn't work and continue with what does. There are many trials ahead of us but we do get better.

Mike True's picture

partisan pollution

It seems to be about controlling the message. The GOP goes about sullying the reputation of the Obamas, attacks the existence of unions and speaks to the fears and biases of all of us. Notice that they insist on tax breaks for the rich and the ownership class. The method is intended to control the outcome of elections to gain even more for the rich and powerful. Public Service Unions are the only 3 Democratic PACs in the top 10. These PACs control the focus of the debate in elections by smearing and belittling the opponent. Look at the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry -- foul play! He is a decorated war veteran. These people call Obama both a facist and a communist - he really can't be both - carry signs thst show him with a Hitler mustache - with the SCOTUS decision to allow corporations and the chamber of commerce to produce ads and entire propaganda shows as they wish, it is only going to get worse. There is a reason for their partisanship.

Mike True's picture

partisan pollution

It seems to be about controlling the message. The GOP goes about sullying the reputation of the Obamas, attacks the existence of unions and speaks to the fears and biases of all of us. Notice that they insist on tax breaks for the rich and the ownership class. The method is intended to control the outcome of elections to gain even more for the rich and powerful. Public Service Unions are the only 3 Democratic PACs in the top 10. These PACs control the focus of the debate in elections by smearing and belittling the opponent. Look at the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry -- foul play! He is a decorated war veteran. These people call Obama both a facist and a communist - he really can't be both - carry signs thst show him with a Hitler mustache - with the SCOTUS decision to allow corporations and the chamber of commerce to produce ads and entire propaganda shows as they wish, it is only going to get worse. There is a reason for their partisanship.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

To stick to the partisanship

rather than the athletes...

It all began with the death of our 225 year democratic experiment when 5 appointed judges decided their votes trumped the votes of the people. The Scalia court will forever live in infamy for their foul deed which was even accepting the case - not their all to predictable decision.

We will never know for sure who won that election. I know what the newspapers reported, I also know early reports that indicated all sorts of chicanery in Florida. The former are cited as proof that Bush won, the latter, which disappeared into a 1984 like black hole leave doubt.

From that horrible, terribly political decision, grew partisanship. I can't help but wonder if the election of a skinny black man with a "funny sounding" name, wasn't enough to rouse barely concealed animus among those threatened by change.

partisan pollution

Iagree,we should be happy that our president shares our common interests, rather than elitist pursuits like poloand fox hunting!

Stephen Leon's picture

Republibums Are Creeps

I know even the stupid are entitled to representation, ergo bush, but they need to stay an illiterate minority.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Most college

players are there for one reason only. To play their sport. They were not recruited for thier brains. When interviewed most of them sound like uneducated dummies. The logic is simply to win at any expense. Then the kid gets to be a junior and is recruitd for a major league team for many millions of dollars. Hard choice stay in college and graduate with a diploma which may or may not get him a job flipping burgers for minimum wage or play his sport. Which would any of you do.

Greg Rose's picture

a question...

I agree with you. Rapid partisanship has polluted the American system of government at all levels. I am curious as to why you feel that by resisting the "'rabid' competitive/partisan direction" you have conbtributed to the problem? In my opinion, the more of us who speak out against this scourge the better. You are right; neither side is listening. So, those of us who are listening, and have logical minds and a conscience need to speak up... louder and more frequently.

Greg Rose's picture

Understood

I can definitely relate. Point taken. I've found that the older I get, the more outraged I become. Am I just paying more attention now or are things that much worse? I think it is a function of both. Righteous anger does however, have it's place. Fight the good fight, Mr. Fallon. Those of us with logical minds who think for ourselves and make our own decisions seem to be in the minority today.

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