At every level of sports--from the local school district getting exposed trying to quietly shoo out a coach who'd had a couple of "inappropriate relationships" with students, to the farce of Jim Tressel at Ohio State, to FIFA--we've had a strikingly uniform set of illustrations of the lesson that the link between moral behavior and sports--especially sports administration--is not automatic.
so, what's this got to do with Fort Worth, TX?
actually, you can be even more specific than that, and focus on one Fort Worth-based family (although in the older generation, you also have to include Bud Shrake . . .): the Jenkins family, specifically father Dan Jenkins and daughter Sally.
Dan Jenkins is a legend in my family because my mother went to high school with him--and before I read the story of how some teen-age sports reporters started inserting scores and stories about a fake West Texas high school team and star into the paper so they could bet on the results, I'd heard them. In fact, I heard them before the book was written. In his reporting and columns for Sports Illustrated and especially in the horrifically funny satires of NFL football (Semi-Tough and some others), Jenkins skewered the notion that sports celebrities were fit vessels for fan adulation. (And he targets the media as well).
Sally Jenkins, on the other hand--although every once in a while in her Washington Post columns she tries to summon up some of her dad's perspective--you probably already know her complicity in the production of Saint Armstrong. The very title of the first pseudo-auto-biography (it's not REALLY an autobiography of you didn't actually write it yourself), It's Not About the Bike pretty blatantly suggests that it's all about the dude riding the bike.
Is she having second thoughts about her role in the creation of the Armstrong-phenomena? Sorta. Again, you've probably read her "I really don't wanna admit that he probably lied to me" article, and if you haven't, it's easy to google.
But the point of this post is to note, sorta sardonically, that the journalistic stance called for by Gerard Vroomen in a recent blog-post in which he praises journalists like Kimmage for writing the unpopular story that risked losing access to "i bigs," was developed in American sports reporting by the dad of the woman most responsible for creating the legend of Armstrong.
And Jenkins senior developed that fundamental conviction about the potential corruptions of sports watching Texas college and high school football. (And, then, golf at Colonial Country Club, but that's a different set of stories).