Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.


In the wake of Penn State another football season approaches, another frenzy of support for superiority…and at what cost?

I’ll share a bit of information with you as to general readership of the blogs on this site…at least my blogs.

The numbers are in direct proportion to the overall popularity and personal attachment to the subject.

Political content is generally hit and miss.  No one really cares about what the politicians do until, as the saying goes…it’s their ox gettin’ gored.

Sports, which comprises 90% of the content on PPM, is similar, in that people typically read that which represents their own personal interest.  Baseball people read baseball.  Basketball people read basketball.  Wrestling reads wrestling, etc., etc.  We generally go with the flow and look for the best possible story.

Which brings us to football.  For whatever reason, everyone reads football.  And in Ohio they read it because of the unparalleled popularity of Ohio State football, the Browns and the Bengals…the cultural tradition of high school football on Friday nights.

We have an insatiable appetite for football.  Hence, the Ohio High School Athletic Association recently voted to expand football to a seventh division beginning in 2013…to better level the playing field among Division I schools, yes.  But there’s another reality.  It’s just plain good business.  Bigger tournament, more schools, more games, more tickets sold…more money!

Generally, I have no problem with it for I too am a football fan.  I like the traditions.  I love Friday nights.  I love Saturday afternoons.  I love the competitive nature of what I see on the field.  And yes, I love seeing people come out in the name of the sport…in support of their local teams and athletes.  This is all good.

Which perhaps brings us to a not-so-good point about football and another season as it pertains to the recent tragedies at Penn State…the allegations, findings, and decisions rendered by the NCAA and the Big Ten in light of the horrific offenses and apparent coverups.

My question is…is there anything too corrupt, malicious, or sickening (in the case of Jerry Sandusky) that would keep you away, or would bring you to believe that the more you support your favorite college program the more likely the future abuses?

In essence the NCAA rulings handed down to Penn State, based on the Freeh reports, determined that football had become so important to the university for the sheer amount of money it represented (something north of 300 million) that corruption within the program was ignored for the sake of that money.  Look the other way in the face of child molestation to protect the machine and the people who run it.

The penalties, as they were shared by the the NCAA, were levied in an attempt to bring football at Penn State back into perspective.  But consider the aftermath of those penalties now, and the overwhelming support being drummed up from within the university community and alumni to support and rebuild the culture and dominance of Nittany Lion football, and as soon as possible.

I don’t hear anything out of Happy Valley and Penn State Nation about contrition.  I hear “We Are Penn State”, and we’ll be back, bigger, better, stronger than ever.  “We will persevere”, one bumper sticker read last week.  I’m thinking that the NCAA has failed miserably to limit the importance of football there.  All the men in suits have done is arouse more fervor.

At Ohio State Jim Tressel lied to protect the same machinery that’s responsible for about $350 million annually to the university in the name of football.  But that was forgotten quickly when Urban Meyer was announced as the new coach.  To hell with embarrassment, we just hired an even better coach…a better recruiter with more national championships.

Abuses?  Penn State?  It could happen here?  Forget that!

The sanctions from “Tressel-Gate?”

No, the thinking is…we’re going to win even more games when Urban gets his feet on the ground, and more championships.

You think the NCAA’s sanctions of Penn State had an impact at LSU, at Alabama, or at Southern Cal?

Or at Oregon, where the reality of Ducks football and the spectre of Phil Knight’s money are inseparable in its importance to that institutional community?

You think that people really care that the head coach and the top assistants at those schools are in the top 2% of the best-paid people in the state…as long as they win and bring in whatever they represent in support of the schools of engineering, business, and education?

With the college season just three weeks away, and with the NCAA’s intended limiting to the prominence of football at Penn State just two weeks removed, isn’t it ironic to you that all people can talk about now is who in college football will be the dominant team in 2o12?  The issues at Penn State have paled compared to interest in pre-season ratings.  The game and the machinery, despite the NCAA, goes on while the next horror festers someplace.

Like it or not…believe it or not…the crimes and the lessons of Penn State are in the rear-view mirror.  Who’s gonna’ remember victim #4 when Michigan plays Notre Dame?  When Georgia plays Florida?

My bill for OSU football tickets came last week.  There was no statement inside reminding me to keep football in perspective in light of the horrors that can come when an obsession for dominance overtakes an individual’s obsession for character and human decency.  No, there was just an amount, a remit-to address, and a deadline for payment.

For a moment I thought about Penn State.  I considered the cost(s).  And I wondered…how many others took the time before they wrote their checks?