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Sub-Prime Time

Sub-Prime Time


Sub-Prime time.

Like mortgages of the same description, the University of Colorado is paying a high price for a few moments in the spotlight.

I’m not gloating because the Buffs were blown out of the water by the Oregon Ducks.  Every realistic pundit on the planet predicted that debacle.  A team that barely eked out a victory over CSU was clearly not ready for Prime time.

Of greater concern to this educator and tax-paying Coloradan, is the judgment, or lack thereof, that led CU to become the poster child/laughing stock of big time athletics gone wild.  College sports, at least football and basketball at the DI level, are tawdry big business, not remotely related to higher education.  Would that a good investigative journalist delve into the transcripts and various “credentials” of the Sanders lads and other athletes who slipped through the transfer portal!  I wonder how many Buff fans are otherwise opposed on principle to affirmative action, where minority applicants get a small nod?  I suspect these transfers got more of a deep bow than a small nod.

I admit that it is an entertaining phenomenon, but higher education is not entertainment.  Deion Sanders is a character, to be sure.  From what I’ve read, he is a decent enough guy and he was certainly a fine athlete.  But the adulation is absurd.  I’ve read enough and heard enough to be sure that his “wisdom” is merely platitudes and homilies, not insights and fresh perspectives.

I also wonder how a public university turns a blind eye to the explicit religiosity Sanders brings to the program.  Although it may only be hypothetical, I can imagine the discomfort an aspiring Jewish, Muslim or atheist football player might feel in a program so steeped in Christianity.   If I were such an athlete, CU would be off my list.  I suspect that would be fine with Sanders and his team.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and others have objected to this apparent violation of religious endorsement/coercion by a public institution, but CU’s leaders are silent.  One might hope for a lawsuit, but the precedent set in the Supreme Court case,  Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, is discouraging.  In that case, SCOTUS decided that a high school coach, Joseph Kennedy, was exercising his First Amendment rights when praying at the 50 yard line.  Kennedy, at least, was doing so after games, not before, during and after, as is the Sanders way.  But this Supreme Court has yet to find an expression of religion that crosses the church/state line.  When you believe religion is inerrant, as the Catholic majority believes, then any objections to its expression are deemed an irrelevant nuisance.

This is not the only arena (stadium) in which religion is given free rein to reign supreme.  Judicial precedents abound these days, giving license to discriminate in enrollment and/or hiring to any educational institution or retail business that includes bigotry against LGBTQ+ folks among its religious tenets.

The United States has always been a somewhat hostile environment for the faithless.  I was in the first grade when “Under God” was added to the already coercive daily pledge.  In those early years, new friends’ parents would often ask, “Where do you go to church?”  We non-believers are expected to rise, hand over heart, for a superfluous Pledge at our children or grandchildren’s schools.   It is nearly breathtakingly contradictory that a country founded, in part, on the separation of church and state, has a daily prayer in Congress, a mandatory God Bless America at the end of every presidential speech, and a religious slogan on our currency and in the courts which should uphold our constitution, not violate it.

But, but, look at all the revenue coming to CU along with Prime Time!!  Yes, there is that.  At least the University got a good price when it sold its soul.


Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson is a retired educator, author, and newspaper columnist. He and his wife Wendy moved to Erie from Manhattan in 2017 to be near family. He was a serious violinist and athlete until a catastrophic mountain bike accident in 2020. He now specializes in gratitude and kindness.

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