Hey, gang! Check this out! Get our oven mitts on when you read this one, kids, because this is one of the most piping hot things any sports writer has ever said.

Christine Brennan is a columnist for USA Today and came out with a doozy of an article earlier this month. Brennan made the claim that the Big Ten Conference suffered its darkest day ever … by agreeing to have college football this season. Yeah, she actually said that. Here’s why:

The Big Ten originally made the decision to shut down sports this season owing to Covid-19 but athletes and some schools began to make some noise. They wanted to have the choice on whether or not to play. The schools stuck to their decision not to play but did an about-face and there will now be football being played. If players don’t want to play for any reason, they can opt out. Simple.

Brennan didn’t like this and that’s fine. She’s entitled to crap on the decision but to call it the “darkest day in (the) conference’s sports history” does such a disservice to plenty of other dark days that have happened within the conference.

A short history lesson:

Remember that time Bobby Knight choked Bobby Reid in the middle of an Indiana University basketball practice? That’s assault and a hell of a lot darker than a few football games being played.

Then there was that time the late Woody Hayes was coaching Ohio State in the 1978 Gator Bowl and decided to punch Charlie Bauman of Clemson late in the game? All because Bauman picked off a pass? That’s assault as well and a hell of a lot darker than a few football games being played.

Why, even this year, Zach Smith, a former assistant coach at Ohio State, was sent to jail after he violated a protection order taken out by his now-ex-wife. That’s horrible enough but what made it worse was Urban Meyer, Smith’s former boss, apparently ignoring domestic violence complaints lodged against Smith. Meyer fired Smith in 2018 but the damage had been done. That’s a hell of a lot darker than a few football games being played.

Maybe Brennan forgot about Jerry Sandusky. Remember him? He’s the former assistant coach of Penn State who is now rotting for the rest of his natural life in a prison cell for sexually abusing several minors during his time there. I will spare you the list of what he was found guilty of and the stories behind them all because it’s sickening but needless to say, Sandusky is in a better place now.

Penn State covered everything up and I mean everything. The school knew and buried it. It was complicit in everything Sandusky did. I don’t know about you but that seems a hell of a lot darker than a few football games being played.

And now we come to Larry Nassar, someone who holds a near and dear place in the bottom of my toilet. 

Nassar was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics and was also a professor at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. Nassar is now spending whatever years of his wretched existence he has left in prison after being convicted of dozens of sex abuse charges involving minors, all of them young girls at the time. Again, I won’t list them because they will turn your guts.

So where does Michigan State come into this? Well, they had received complaints about Nassar’s behaviour and, much like Penn State did with Sandusky, swept them under the carpet. All the school did was issue Nassar a warning about his conduct and only fired him in 2016 after “violating” the agreement he had made with the school to behave himself.

Michigan State was forced to pay out $500 million in settlement money to more than 300 victims, a small price to pay for its role, I guess.

I think that’s a hell of a lot darker than a few football games being played.

The gist of what I’m getting at is that there have been a lot of awful things done at schools within the Big Ten Conference which pale in comparison to the conference returning to action in these confusing/unprecedented/strange/tough/troubling/difficult/weird times. Brennan’s column is akin to comparing something to the Holocaust, which we all know is something you just don’t do because you can’t compare anything to the Holocaust because the Holocaust is incomparable.

There are bigger monsters in the lake to take down. Football games happening isn’t one of them.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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