The University of Louisville men's basketball self-imposed ban on post-season play has rocked their basketball season and drawn the ire of Coach Rick Pitino who argues that heavy fines should be levied on coaches, the school—anybody but his ballplayers. It's a compelling argument from U of L's motivator-in-chief. But this is the second time Pitino has skirted around a sex scandal and his credibility is wearing thin as he claims to not have known about it.
U of L's basketball program suffered a serious blow when self-described madam and escort queen Katina Powell published Breaking Cardinal Rules, a sordid tell-all tale describing multiple occasions where she provided strippers and prostitutes to high school recruits on official visits to Louisville. "I felt like I was part of the recruitment team. A lot of them players went to Louisville because of me," Powell wrote.
Much more than Cardinal Rules were broken. Parental trust was violated. The idea of coaches serving as role models, abrogated. Wrong-headed messages are sent when women become objects to be used and sex is reduced to a transactional commodity used to lure the nation's top basketball talent. That we flirt with sin and have traded temporal pleasure and perceived short-term success for lasting virtue is a sign of our times. Powell admitted as much in her book which was released last fall.
"The Four Horseman of Our Apocalypse—greed, poverty, drugs and alcohol—have a way of shoving morality into the nearest dark closet with the hope that it won't come out while the money's still coming in" co-author Dick Cady wrote with Powell, who had three of her daughters working alongside her in the sex trade. Such brash admissions of depravity are only possible with a seared conscience.
Yet doesn't our society's infatuation with money and sports and sex and fame bear some blame? Commingle all four, throw in the possibility of a national championship in a state that all but worships college ball and you've got the recipe for a major program's justification to breech all boundaries. Morality has indeed been buried in U of L's darkest closets.
Perhaps our society's fixation on nonstop entertainment and insistence that their team win at all costs is blinding. The corruption of popular entertainment, of which sports is the biggest category, tells us much about ourselves and what we value. Too often we feed upon a steady stream of vicarious meaning through our winning sports team or worse yet, mind-numbing, soul-coarsening TV programming. Which brings us to the latest show dished out by the FOX network.
Two weeks ago, FOX launched a controversial show called Lucifer, which has drawn boycotts from conservative groups. The promo says "Lucifer, bored from his sulking life in hell comes and lives in Los Angeles only to help humanity with it's miseries through his experience and telepathic abilities to bring people's deepest desires and thoughts out of them." Another trailer says "prepare to be charmed by the devil." Programs that humanize Satan are troubling and the idea that he actually returned to earth to "help humanity" is, can I say, a whopper from the pit of the dark abyss.
In our fallen world, people of every race, socio-economic status and yes, even sports teams need spiritual help, not from Lucifer Morningstar—the Devil that FOX network has glamorized, but rather, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ. I can hear the jeers and howls already. Of course, it's a radical proposition. Yet it's one that Western civilization has generally embraced.
Any sports team that sells its soul for a national championship has lost its way that even the highest accomplishment can never justify. When young girls and boys become pawns in the cruel game of dehumanization and objectification, the devil isn't in the details, he's becomes part of the program.
This column appeared in the February 17, 2016 edition of the Spencer Magnet.
Richard Nelson is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, a nonprofit public policy group. He resides in Cadiz with his wife and children.