Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Paw on the Media: Cam Newton and the NCAA

I, like all Auburn fans, am glad that the NCAA made the decision this week to declare Cam Newton eligible to continue playing for Auburn this season. 

Yes, I understand that the NCAA was specific in its language, saying that its decision was based on what is known right now.  However, while that language gives the NCAA room for further action in the future, I think it's rather telling that evidence of wrongdoing by Cam - and Auburn - is nonexistent at this time.

The media has had nearly a month to dig through records and wear out some shoe leather.  I imagine investigators of all sorts have similarly been on the trail of the elusive evidence that would bring down the future Heisman Trophy winner and potentially Auburn University.  Not to say that anyone wants to damage Cam or Auburn specifically.  The media and attention-hounds all know there would be big money for the one who could break the story that breaks the camel's back, regardless of the identity of the future Heisman Trophy winner or football-powerhouse university

Even if there is no inherent value in having integrity, the climate in which we live - a climate where society finds so much entertainment value in personal or institutional destruction - should provide plenty of motivation for committing one's self to pursuing it personally or professionally (and institutionally, in the case of universities and colleges).

As I have shared my thoughts with a few in my circle of friends, I have been reminded that questions remain in some people's minds about Cam's integrity, despite the NCAA's reinstatement of his eligibility.  Some refer to his time at the University of Florida and the allegations regarding the stolen laptop and academic dishonesty. Others, though, contend that the "pay for play" imbroglio is still worthy of our attention in assessing Cam.

At least one sportswriter writes that Cecil Newton's recent past is plenty of reason to judge Cam Newton in the present. He claims that the Heisman Trust needs a candidate with integrity. He makes clear that, in his opinion, Cam Newton is not that candidate:
"Voters can't be convinced that Newton is a clean choice ..."
The sportswriter contends:
"Voters should not interpret Newton's reinstatement -- after a one-day, hush-hush stint of ineligibility -- as a green light to hike him the Heisman. If anything, the NCAA and Auburn confirmed a damning allegation, that Newton's father, Cecil, once marketed his son in a pay-for-play scheme.

"Something still smells fishy with Newton. He gets to play, as long as his daddy stays away? That is not a glowing endorsement of the NCAA bylaws."
I'm not sure how one comes to the conclusion that Cam's fitness for the Heisman rests on an assessment of Cecil Newton's transgressions or whether or not one can endorse the NCAA's bylaws - except, of course, if one is making the argument that Cam's hands are in fact dirty even though no evidence exists.

As for those detractors who hold against Cam the allegations related to his time at Florida, I say that even if the allegations are true, I am not convinced that they should disqualify him from being awarded the Heisman now.  I believe the past is the past and Cam (like any young man or woman) deserves the opportunity to redeem himself to whatever extent the allegations from Florida are true.

If we do not let young men and women overcome and move past their own mistakes (the very definition of redemption) then we don't give those young people any reason to better themselves after making those initial mistakes.

Where's the sportsmanship in that?

1 comment:

  1. Their mission states the Heisman Memorial Trust Trophy "annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work." In addition the Heisman trophy endeavors to "symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted."
    I leave it to your readers to ascertain for themselves which player best embodies these characteristics, but Cameron Newton seems to exemplify them to me and, despite the events of the past several weeks, attempts to question his integrity have not been successful. Regardless of the Heisman outcome – although it certainly seems on track for Cam -- there is no denying #2, and the entire team, has had an incredible season; one for Auburn fans to be proud of and celebrate for many years to come!