Gregg Easterbrook is one of the smartest guys around, whether he’s writing about the space shuttle or football. A few years ago, we were on a panel together at the Ethics & Public Policy Center to discuss C.S. Lewis. As a writer and thinker, the man has great range.
So I’m thrilled to learn that he enjoyed The Big Scrum:
As recounted in the entertaining “The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football,” a forthcoming book by John Miller, even manly man president Teddy Roosevelt, who led the charge up San Juan Hill, was disgusted by the notion of young men doing themselves significant harm in sports. He spoke of having football outlawed, then solved the problem by sponsoring the forerunner organization to the NCAA, which addressed brutal football tactics through rule changes. If Teddy were around today, what might he think of the concussion plague?
The column is about sports and the presidency. It makes the point that if President Obama is going to devote any time to college athletics, perhaps he should worry less about his basketball bracket and more about graduation rates:
On this score, the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt has long been missing from the White House. … Suppose Barack Obama pressured the NCAA — which earns nearly all its revenue from March Madness — to take true action regarding men’s basketball and academics. Then reform might happen. Virginia Commonwealth University graduates 54 percent of its African-American men’s basketball players; Butler graduates 75 percent. By reaching the Final Four, VCU and Butler prove it is indeed possible to have a top men’s college basketball program without making a sham of academics. Why doesn’t President Obama weigh in on that?