Column: Welcome to the self-serving (and despicable) world of athletics

On July 10, Bloomington North High School junior Musa Jallow pledged his athletic services to THE Ohio State University men’s basketball program. There wasn’t much unusual about the verbal commitment made by the talented athlete. However, what did stand out was the fact that not only did Jallow decide to accept a scholarship from recently-hired Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann, but he chose to implement it immediately by “reclassifying” to the class of 2017 (i.e. graduating immediately) and enrolling at the university.

So less than one month before he was to begin his senior year in Bloomington, Jallow elected to skip an entire academic year, all for the purpose of expediting his athletic career.

How is that possible? I truly don’t know.

Why would he (and his family) choose to do such a thing? It occurred because the teenager was surrounded by a number of adults that held THEIR best interests at heart, not his.

Welcome to the world of athletics – at all levels. It’s a sphere in which all parties involved suffer from narcissism as they chase self aggrandizement (and massive amounts of money) through achievement on the fields and courts of athletics.

Such behavior is not excusable for the youth involved, but it is understandable to a degree. The teens are mostly immature and ignorant (to the repercussions of their behavior). However, the more sickening aspect is the level in which the behavior emanates from the so-called “adults in the room.”

The federal charges of bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, honest service fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Travel Act conspiracy that were brought against 10 people associated with college basketball Monday evening were just the latest in a never-ending, disgusting assembly line of sewage that is churned out by the sporting world.

What has unfolded across the sports landscape in the past 48 hours isn’t a shock to anyone that has any knowledge of, or connection to, athletics.

Neither is watching a kid – on 29 days notice – decide to skip his senior year of high school.

Neither is watching countless prep athletes throughout this city (with guidance from the adults in their lives) annually transfer schools, as opposed to working through challenging situations.

And I could go on and on and on…

Just as the country has become numb to our President acting with a disturbing level of immaturity on a daily basis, sports fans are mostly desensitized by any type of appalling behavior exhibited by athletes and coaches, many of whom the fans have an uncomfortable level of idolatry.

The Louisville basketball program was drug into the news Tuesday, as well, with an allegation that an executive with Adidas arranged for the payment of $100,000 to a prospect that ultimately signed with the Cardinal program.

This latest scandal involving Louisville and its coach, Rick Pitino, follows earlier incidents in which he impregnated a woman while having an affair on the table of a restaurant, as well as the Cardinals being punished by the NCAA for providing striptease dances and sex acts for prospects and student-athletes.

You would think that such behavior would be found despicable by any rational person. However, it wasn’t enough to dissuade a pair of Fort Wayne basketball players (Snider High School’s Malik Williams and Carroll High School’s Jacob Redding) from joining the Louisville program this past summer.

If a college athletics program providing prostitutes for your 18-year-old child isn’t enough to sicken an adult, I’m not sure anything actually is.

Obviously, having a self-serving college coach talk your child into skipping a year of his life; a time in which is critical to their emotional, physical, and intellectual development; all in the name of winning basketball games, isn’t enough either.

Perhaps the worst part of about Tuesday’s salaciousness is the indisputable, but sad fact that nothing within sports will change. Not one bit.

The sun came up again this morning and somewhere across America there was a parent pissed about their kids’ playing time, an athlete on the take, and most definitely, a coach trying to leverage his own self-interests at the expense of both of them.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Tom Davis at