Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba heard about the sacking of the long-tenured Pennsylvania State University varsity football gridiron coach Joe Paterno just this morning (10 November 2011) – about a million years ago TST (Twitter Standard Time). That he found out even as late as that was remarkable, as YFNA had quit following organized sport of any kind back sometime around last March. He has become so insulated from “the games”, that when he walked past a restaurant lounge a month ago …

“Hey buddy. Isn’t it a little late in the year for interleague baseball?”

“That’s the World Series.”

“The World Series? St. Louis? Texas?!?

Anyway. By the time YFNA got the news, everybody else and their pet chinchillas knew how the sins of one of his priests had brought down the Church of JoePa …

“This is the Vatican. How may we help you?”

“This is Joe Paterno, Pennsylvania, USA.”

“The Head of the Church of JoePa?”

“You have said so. May I speak with His Holiness the Pope? I seek his advice on a problem we both share.”

“His Holiness has received the news. He will pray for you.”

“I was hoping for something more practical.”

“Prayer is the most practical advice His Holiness can offer, sir. He says, nothing else short of Divine Intervention does a lick of good. Crede expertum.”

And most of them have commented. Either, it’s a scandal that Paterno should, after all his time and accomplishments, be sacked for this one failing. Or, it’s a scandal that Joe Pedo hasn’t already been hanged from the highest rung of his coaching chair at the 50-yard line of the Happy Valley gridiron stadium.

Far be it from Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba to fail to do what everyone else is doing. Comment on all this, that is. Though, he confesses, the train of his thoughts don’t have much to do with what Paterno and his associates have or have not done. After all, he was not there. All he knows, Will, is what he reads on the Internet.

Those thoughts have much more to do with us. You and me, fellow citizens of these Untied States of America.

How it is that We the People can let pass, with scarcely a murmur, the bombing to smithereens of a nation full of people on the scantiest and falsest of pretexts.

How we can accept, and even call good, Our insistence on an economic system that consigns a quarter (at least) of the population to grinding poverty, nonexistent health care, and demeaning servitude. And then we look outside of the USA’s borders …

But so help Us if somebody gets caught with pants down in the wrong place at the wrong time! Right, Joe? Bill? Tiger?

We the People will bring down the great and noble if their (alleged) sexual conduct offends us. But We will support the perpetrators of crimes against humanity if they are successful in convincing us that their bedroom conduct is what We deem to be appropriate.

Perhaps you will forgive YFNA the observation that Our moral sense seems a bit, ah, screwy.

If it were less screwy, perhaps We would use it to examine critically the system that buoyed JoePa up, and then threw him down. How many Penn States, Ohio States, Miamis, Southern Californias – just to name four, within the past year or so – will it take before We recognize that allowing Our universities to be held hostage by professional sports franchises is A Bad Thing?

Do We really need tabloid / soap opera entertainment that badly?

If We do, it’s a really expensive taste.

Measured in the thousands of lives it consumes each year. 95% of so-called “student athletes” in the revenue sports get neither a job in the major pro sports leagues (one of which will apparently be hiring nobody this year) nor a credible university education.

Measured in the subsuming of the supposed primary mission of Our universities – acquiring and passing on knowledge – in the name of supporting the revenue sports. Johnny Carson once famously said that We would pay $10 for entertainment for every $1 we spend on education. Which is about the percentage by which revenue sports budget are growing on Our university campuses while We (yes, We) slash and burn the budgets that Our universities need for its people to acquire and transmit knowledge. Faculty, staff, and students at one major University of YFNA’s acquaintance recently were asked to vacate their jobs – and, especially, their parking places – so that their University could host a weekday gridiron game. Perhaps there’s a reason that the University in question removed its motto, Lux sit (“Let there be light”), from most of its branding (logos and such): a last, lingering concession to the principle of “truth in advertising”.

An expensive taste, indeed. One could almost call it immoral.


  1. “Friendly neighborhood amoeba”? It seems I have another fellow amoeba out on the internet…

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