Sunday, October 12, 2014

Florida State Football ... #1 Champs or Chumps ... Tallahassee Police and Many College Leaders are Chumps ... So are the Coaches, Many Players and Lots of Supporters

Lots has been written, said and seen about a few NFL players and their off-the-field violence and despicable behavior lately. Of course, these same players were competing for dear old State U. not so long ago before embarking on their professional careers.

So let's take a look at the story of big time college football at Florida State and how it's being played.

At Florida State, Football Clouds Justice tells a long and sobering story. In my view, big time college football is in need of immediate attention and dramatic change, but that action and change aren't likely to come anytime soon. Too much money and too much hero worship are at stake. That's a shame, but it's also the truth.
The following is a sampling of "highlight/lowlights" about what's happening at football powerhouse Florida State and undoubtedly is taking place in various forms at some other football crazy Ameican institutions of "higher learning."

"TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The 911 call could not have sounded more urgent: A man was beating a woman holding a baby outside their apartment as she tried to leave.

“You just need to get someone out here right away because it is really bad,” the caller said, adding that the man was “punching” the mother and “grabbing the little baby around the arm.”

By the time the police arrived shortly after 3 a.m. one day last January, the couple were back inside. The 19-year-old woman acknowledged that she and her boyfriend had argued, and that he had not wanted her to leave. But she insisted nothing physical had occurred.

Officers responding to a domestic violence call have a legal duty to investigate thoroughly, seek written statements from witnesses and from the victim, instruct the victim on how to seek help and, finally, forward their report to the local domestic abuse crisis center. But, according to their brief report on the episode, the officers did none of that.

They did, however, find the case significant enough to notify their sergeant — “due to the fact that it was an F.S.U. football player,” the report said. The sergeant, a Florida State University sports fan, signed off on it and the complaint was filed away as “unfounded.

It was hardly the first time that the towering presence of Florida State football had cast a shadow over justice in Tallahassee.

Last year, the deeply flawed handling of a rape allegation against the quarterback Jameis Winston drew attention to institutional failures by law enforcement and Florida State officials. The accuser’s lawyer complained that detectives had seemed most interested in finding reasons not to pursue charges against Mr. Winston, a prized recruit who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead his team to a national championship.

Now, an examination by The New York Times of police and court records, along with interviews with crime witnesses, has found that, far from an aberration, the treatment of the Winston complaint was in keeping with the way the police on numerous occasions have soft-pedaled allegations of wrongdoing by Seminoles football players. From criminal mischief and motor-vehicle theft to domestic violence, arrests have been avoided, investigations have stalled and players have escaped serious consequences.

In a community whose self-image and economic well-being are so tightly bound to the fortunes of the nation’s top-ranked college football team, law enforcement officers are finely attuned to a suspect’s
football connections. Those ties are cited repeatedly in police reports examined by The Times.

When Jesus (Bobo) Wilson, an up-and-coming wide receiver, was stopped by the Tallahassee police in June while riding a stolen Bintelli Sprint motor scooter, his story was dubious: He claimed he had borrowed it from a student whose last name he did not know. But for Officer Michael Petroczky, it was convincing enough to forestall an arrest. . . .

A sign showed support for the Florida State Seminoles football team in Tallahassee this month. Evidence of Seminole fever is everywhere in the city, where officials say each home game pumps up to $10 million into the local economy.             

According to the scooter’s owner, Mr. Wilson’s football connections weighed heavily on the case.

After letting Mr. Wilson go, the officer arranged to meet the owner, a Florida State student, in a campus parking lot at night and “questioned if I was mentally stable or if I had forgotten that I lent him the scooter,” the student said in an email interview. The officer seemed deeply reluctant to charge Mr. Wilson, saying he did not want his name on the arrest report, according to the student.

“He told me that he had not arrested Wilson because he was a football player, and he did not want to ‘ruin’ his record by arresting him” if there was a chance he might be innocent, the student wrote.

At least 13 football players have been implicated in a string of wild public shootouts with CO2-powered BB and pellet guns, causing thousands of dollars in property damage, endangering bystanders and eliciting a police response. Yet until the most recent case — a previously unreported shootout in June that caused such a commotion that a sheriff’s helicopter was called in to search for suspects — none of the episodes led to charges, even though elsewhere in Florida suspects as young as 12 have been arrested for doing the same things."

Summing Up

Maybe we football fans have too much love of the "game" as it is played today and not enough love of the game as it should be played.

Who should be allowed to play --- only legitimate student athletes or more talented thugs?

Are we sending the right message to young and older Americans alike with respect to what's important about a college education and the proper role of big time collegiate athletics?

Of course not.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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