Thursday, June 16, 2011

George Jefferson and the Big Lie

LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson won't be movin' on up to Phi Beta Kappa.

Unfortunately for the university's media-relations types, however, he moved on up to
ESPN -- an event they touted to the world:
LSU senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson will spend Thursday at the ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Conn., appearing on various ESPN shows and platforms throughout the day as part of the network's "car wash."

The ESPN "car wash" for Jefferson gets underway at 9:50 a.m. CT with an appearance on ESPN First Take, which will air on ESPN News. Jefferson will also participate in the network's social and digital media platforms, including an appearance for ESPN Rise Magazine's official website.

"I am excited about representing our team with this opportunity," said Jefferson Tuesday morning. "We had a great spring and we have worked very hard this offseason as a team. I can't wait until camp starts and the start of my senior year. I know our fans are just as excited with the season right around the corner."

After lunch in the ESPN cafeteria and an opportunity to visit with ESPN personalities, Jefferson will conduct an chat at noon CT followed by a live interview on the Scott Van Pelt ESPN Radio show at 12:45 p.m. CT. The "SVP show" also airs tape delayed on ESPNU at 2 p.m. CT. To access the chat, visit
HOW DO YOU screw up the answer to that question? Easy. By not having a clue about fourth-grade American history.

You get spotted the last name. You see the powdered wig. And you come up with George Jefferson of TV fame?

No, you don't. Even an LSU football player knows George Jefferson was black.

In this case, I'll bet, what you come up with is "Thomas Washington, George Jefferson . . . whatever."

That some Americans surely are that confused about the Founding Fathers and the origins of our country is tragic -- both for civics' sake and theirs -- but not surprising. That some Americans are that confused and on scholarship to an American university when scores of less-confused young people no longer can hope to afford a college education is a crime.

It also is a contradiction that American colleges and universities have ignored for decades, all for the sake of athletic glory and the almighty dollar. It's a contradiction we ignore, despite the injustices at its heart, for the sake of the bread-and-circuses segment of the American economy.

We perpetuate the Big Lie because of all we have built upon its foundation -- giant stadiums, a TV-sports money machine and de facto developmental leagues for the NFL, NBA and MLB. There's big money in the Big Lie.

And not such a Big Future -- at least anymore -- in being a former LSU quarterback in the National Football League. JaMarcus Russell, anyone?

AS CLOSE AS we get to acknowledging the Big Lie is the cynical wink we give when forced to utter the words "student athlete." And that right there is a massive injustice to the many student athletes who fit the bill -- and bear the stereotype for all those who pretend to learn while we pretend they're college material . . . or even aspire to be.

I'm not here to run athletics out of American colleges -- not that I could even if I wanted to. What I am here for is to ask you, as you polish off another damn bag of chips watching all the "student athletes" get the ESPN "car wash" treatment, to give a fleeting thought to the Big Lie.

And to say a prayer for all those non-athletes who do recognize Thomas Jefferson as they slave away for Abraham Lincolns while too many "student athletes" are otherwise occupied getting Benjamin Franklin handshakes.

Benjamin Franklin . . . now that's a Founding Father a college quarterback can appreciate.

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