Column: Let MSU football right its wrongs, but never forget the controversies
Depending on your level of fandom — or your level of “sports blindness” — this football season presents you with a moral conundrum. Or maybe it doesn't.
You don't get to easily bury four players associated with your football team, with your school, allegedly raping two women in two separate incidents. If you’re thinking critically, you can’t.
You don't forget about it so seamlessly as if it were a petty larceny committed at 7-Eleven.
As much as it seems natural to do, it's hard to separate what happened in the offseason from what will happen in the new season.
Or perhaps we ought to bury the hatchet, let football be football and never let the outlet of distraction become the distraction.
That clouded, “pure football” perspective always edges toward trying to view the game through a purifying lens; disregarding the odor of all of the problems surrounding football. It ignores the links between the game and CTE, the domestic abuse issues and the utter careless nature of the NFL and the NCAA.
Real life and football don't mix for those fans, the same fans who want players to be role models and agents of change but hate those same players when they take a stand incompatible with those fans’ held beliefs.
The same fans who badger coaches for autographs, cry after heartbreaking defeat and get tattoos of teams they never played for.
They want football and the players to be pure entertainment; nothing more, nothing less.
But the fact of the matter is and always has been that real life and football are intertwined. What happens under the banner of the program off the field, fair or not, is a reflection onto the program.
The alleged acts, while the actions of a few players, are still devious and leave the question hanging in the balance: is it the culture of the team, the culture of “big time” football that allows this to happen?
And now, is it possible to saunter into Spartan Stadium and still root for this team knowing what allegedly occurred?
There is no right answer, no right way to reconcile what happened. However, forgetting about what happened is a slippery slope that edges toward Penn State-level ineptitude.
Forgetting is how football, a game whose results matter little, becomes bigger than the lives of humans.
It's how a university, warped by the money and its biggest marketing tool, forgets to prioritize the lives it says it wants to better.
There may not be a perfect way to reconcile what happened, but there are wrong ways.
Do not use the alleged victims and the acts surrounding their situations as the roots of some mythical comeback story.
It is putrid and crazed to use the alleged rapes of two women as the antagonist for MSU's road back to winning, as certain hype videos would have you believe.
This also is not a call to boycott the games and the university, as every investigation into the situation has shown the program and the university to have followed the right protocol.
There was no attempted multi-level cover up like that at Baylor or Penn State. MSU never let it wade into that territory.
It did the right thing when challenged to do so, but the alleged acts were still committed under the guise of its name and the sense of entitlement it allegedly gave a few players.
And that is what makes it tough.
Continuing to support the program in its current fashion lends itself to never allowing it to change. But to not support the program gives it slim chance to right its wrongs.
Never let football cloud the plight it can cause and never let it be bigger than what it is. Enjoy the revelry, the fandom, but don't forget to think critically about what it all means.
This story appears in The State News 2017 Welcome Week Edition. The issue can be found on MSU's campus at various dorms and buildings. To read other Welcome Week stories, click here.