Wainstein follow-up

Still digesting some of the implications of the report.

Here are a few more items of interest:

1) the report states that both John Bunting, head football coach from 2001-2006, and Butch Davis, head football coach from 2007-2010, knew about the paper classes.

From the report:

“Coach Bunting also candidly told us that he knew about the AFAM paper classes, and fully understood that they could be satisfied by submitting a paper without any class attendance. He knew that they yielded consistently high grades for his players, and was told by ASPSA counselor Cynthia Reynolds that they were a key element of her strategy for keeping some players eligible. He had not realized, however, that an office administrator was managing the classes without any faculty involvement. In short, Coach Bunting knew the irregular courses were available and knew they were being used to help keep some players eligible, but believed that they were worthwhile classes.”

About Davis, the report stated:

“he certainly knew by the time of the November 2009 presentation from Beth Bridger that football players in these courses “didn’t go to class… didn’t take notes… didn’t have to meet with professors… [and] didn’t have to pay attention or necessarily engage with the material.”

It’s striking that Bunting, in particular, had a level of awareness of the paper class system, when he led a program comprising over 100 players at any one time, that the head basketball coach, with about fifteen players at any one time, apparently lacked.

2) one very significant area of difference between the 2012 Martin report and the Wainstein report is this:

“Governor Martin found that ‘[t]he percentage of student-athletes enrolled in anomalous course sections was consistent with the percentage of student-athletes enrolled in all courses offered  by the Department.’ After a comprehensive examination of the Registrar records, we came up with a very different statistical picture. We found that student-athletes accounted for 48% of all enrollments in the irregular classes, but only 8.3% of the enrollments in the regular AFAM  courses. Accordingly, unlike Governor Martin, we found that student-athletes were far more represented in paper classes than they were in other courses offered by the department.”

The Martin narrative suggested that student-athletes were drawn to AFAM in part because it was a generally easy major and that it was something of an added bonus that the department offered a particular accommodating route for players to complete their work. By contrast, the Wainstein report suggests that the attraction of student-athletes to AFAM wasn’t primarily because it was a slide major in general. Indeed, the gap in GPA between the paper classes and regular AFAM courses was substantial. The clustering in AFAM among athletes, it seems clear, resulted specifically from the introduction and extension of a parallel curriculum comprising bogus classes. At UNC, that bogus curriculum happened to be housed in AFAM. In other similar scandals, like those at Auburn and the University of Michigan, key offending departments were sociology and psychology, respectively. But the existence of the parallel curriculum in AFAM at UNC really had little to nothing to do with the nature and rigor of AFAM generally.

3) Two additional pieces of data from the report struck me:

a) Per Wainstein: “Of 154 students who enrolled in five or more [non-independent study paper classes], 109 (70.8%) were student-athletes.” This cohort didn’t merely rely on paper classes for the occasional breather. Instead, paper classes were essential to their ability to graduate or, at a minimum, maintain eligibility.

b) of the 3,900+ student enrollments in the paper classes, about 47% were athletes, when athletes make up about four percent of the student body. Even more disproportionate, football and basketball players accounted for nearly 25% of paper class enrollments. Their proportion of the student body – about seven-tenths of one percent.

The Wainstein Report

(A quick note on comments. I welcome disagreement. But I won’t publish stupid personal attacks on certain individuals. Carry on).

Before I jump in, I want to note that one or more people I know are losing their jobs over this. I am not going to weigh in on whether they should or not. But it’s all pretty sobering.

Some thoughts:

1) the first conclusion in the 2012 Martin report, for which UNC paid a minimum of half a million dollars reads: “This was not an athletic scandal. Sadly, it was clearly an academic scandal; but an isolated one within this one department.”

That conclusion is now no longer credible (not that it ever was, but it stood, in some respects, as the university’s official line, until yesterday).

That’s a good thing.

2) the emphasis on the fact that a large number of non-athletes also took the paper classes serves as something of a red herring in analysis of this scandal. First, because there is simply no denying that the shadow curriculum was launched and sustained primarily to benefit athletes and second because the eventual substantial presence of non-athletes in the fake classes is not relevant to questions of athletic eligibility per NCAA rules. If you’re trying to grasp how corruption and denial persist at an institution, understanding the full scope of the scandal, *including* the large numbers of non-athletes who found their way into those classes, is important. But if you’re trying somehow to rationalize or explain away the indisputable fact that the system operated as a critical eligibility life line for athletes, especially in football and, until 2007 or so, basketball, save your breath.

Among the most damning elements of the Wainstein report was the revelation that counselors in Academic Support Programs for Student Athletes (ASPSA) put together a powerpoint presentation essentially warning of the impending disaster that would attend Debbie Crowder’s retirement in 2009.

Specifically, as reported by the News and Observer:

ASPSA football counseling staff explained (1) that the AFAM paper classes had played a large role in keeping under-prepared and/or unmotivated football player eligible to play and (2) that these classes no longer existed. To emphasize those points, the counselors used the following slide in their presentation to the football coaches:

Screen_Shot_2014-10-22_at_4.26.38_PM.0

This particularly damning revelation would, one presumes, be of interest to the NCAA in its ongoing investigation. Remember that the NCAA has punished schools in the past for academic fraud that bore on player eligibility, notably stripping Florida State and Bobby Bowden of all wins in 2006 and 2007, after major academic violations were uncovered there.

Whether the NCAA ought to have the authority to monitor academic processes and procedures and whether there is utility in expunging wins from records years after the fact are matters for debate. But the precedent appears relevant and the Wainstein report would seem to have provided plenty of fodder for applying that precedent in this case.

3) Much of the reporting since yesterday has focused on Roy Williams. Specifically, Williams has been characterized as having expressed “concern” about how many of his players were majoring in AFAM. He also apparently preferred that his players take traditional lecture-style classes, rather than independent studies. His anxiety about the situation, according to the Wainstein report, resulted in the basketball program weaning itself off of paper classes by 2007 or 2008. By contrast, football continued to exploit the shadow curriculum until it was snuffed out in 2011.

These facts have led numerous commentators – and many relieved fans – to conclude that Williams was something of a stand up guy in all this. But the Wainstein report itself is not quite as forgiving as this narrative suggests. First, according to data compiled by Wainstein, here are the numbers of player enrollments in paper classes, by coaching era at UNC:

“During the Dean Smith era (1961-1997), there were 54  basketball player enrollments in AFAM independent studies. In the three years of Coach Bill Guthridge’s tenure (1997-2000), there were 17 basketball enrollments in paper classes. There were  42 enrollments in paper classes under Coach Matt Doherty (2000-2003) and 167 under Coach Roy Williams (2003-present).”

If, as Wainstein reports, the basketball program essentially stopped allowing players to use paper classes by 2008, those 167 enrollments were mostly compiled in the first five or so years of Williams’ tenure at Chapel Hill. This would, of course, include the 2005 championship team, which has been widely reported to have exploited the paper class system to the hilt. How proud should Williams and his defenders be of this record?

This raises a second area in which the report actually undercuts the pro-Williams narrative. In June, Rashad McCants, one of the stars of the 2005 championship team, told ESPN that when he was a student at UNC, his academic career was essentially a joke. He took many paper classes, tutors wrote his and other teammates’ papers and the only priority for his “education” at UNC was to keep him academically eligible. When asked whether Williams knew about the paper class system, McCants said, in essence, yes, of course, he had to know.

Williams angrily refuted that charge and the university assembled many of his former players to back him up in an interview with Jay Bilas shortly after McCants made his allegations.

As I explained at the time, Williams’ insistence since the beginning of this year that the academic side of his players’ college experience is “not my world” and that he essentially knows nothing of what they do academically was implausible. It both contradicted fundamentally statements Williams has made in the past and is obviously at odds with what he undoubtedly tells parents when he’s recruiting their kids.

The report makes clear that Williams was aware of his players’ schedules, the types of classes they were taking and, at least in broad terms, the nature of the classes they were taking. Had he not been, how could he have been so concerned about their clustering in AFAM? How could he have directed his staff to steer them away from independent study style classes to traditional lecture classes? Williams told Wainstein that he knew McCants’ schedule in his final semester at UNC, the spring of 2005, included several AFAM courses. That doesn’t prove that Williams knew they were all paper classes. And Wainstein does conclude that Coach Williams didn’t know that the paper classes themselves were as fraudulent as they’ve been revealed to be. Williams’ handpicked academic coordinator, Wayne Walden, who followed the coach from Kansas to UNC in 2003, did acknowledge awareness of the depth of the improprieties in those classes. But when Wainstein asked him whether he informed Coach Williams, Walden told Wainstein he couldn’t recall having done so.

While these facts let Williams off the hook of the more serious charges, they also demonstrate clearly that he was being untruthful when he said earlier this year that he was essentially in the dark on academic matters.

4) So, what now? The university has spent more than three years and countless hours investigating allegations, convening committees, drawing up new policies, implementing new processes and procedures, reforming its admissions processes and more. All of this has been done to ensure that a school with rigorous academic standards can continue to maintain an elite athletics program, including in the revenue-generating giants – football and men’s basketball. And to do so while ensuring that every student it admits has a real opportunity to receive a high quality college education.

Can this be done? Should it be a goal? Or is it time to give up the ghost and acknowledge that big time sports on college campuses will always tend to create pressures and conflicts of interest that make corruption and scandal likely, if not inevitable?

I know that last question in particular sounds rhetorical, but actually it’s not. My personal preference is that we acknowledge the reality that big time collegiate athletics is a financial behemoth, that the primary goal of bringing elite athletes in the profit sports is to fuel that behemoth and that remuneration should accord with that fact. If athletes have the desire and motivation to take advantage of the educational opportunities that a university affords while playing for that school – fantastic. If not, they don’t have to. The academic preparedness of athletes varies dramatically. Many are ready, willing and able to succeed in the classroom. Others aren’t. If some of the latter want to try, the university should make available to them the resources necessary for them to give it a go. But it wouldn’t require them to take a full load while they are still struggling to master the basic functions necessary to succeed in college. And maintaining academic eligibility wouldn’t be the entry visa necessary to get on the field.

Is this a perfect solution? No. That’s why I mean it when I say that the question above is not rhetorical. Very far from it. It raises its own very serious questions. The scandal at UNC might never have happened, certainly not for the length of time and in the form it did, were it not for the action of several key individuals. But the institutional pressure that big-time athletics exerts puts all institutions of higher education in compromising circumstances. That real people, some with understandable and even sympathetic motives, were central to the scandal in Chapel Hill should not be allowed to obscure the larger dilemma.

The Upside of Mediocrity

Dave Cameron has a really nice piece on the Royals, who open tonight’s World Series against the San Francisco Giants. Like a lot of analysts, Cameron was critical of the Royals’ 2013 trade for starter James Shields, which required giving up super-prospect Wil Myers. Shields has anchored a pitching staff that has led the Royals’ on an improbable run through the AL playoffs, positioning KC for a chance to capture its first World Series title since 1985.

Cameron asks himself where he went wrong in evaluating the Royals’ decision-making:

The playoffs—like most short tournaments between competitors of mostly equal stature—are mostly random, with the outcomes swinging wildly on things that simply couldn’t have been predicted in advance.

There’s a decent chance that the Royals don’t even make it out of the wild-card game if Geovany Soto doesn’t get injured on a play that began when Billy Butler screwed up a stolen base attempt. The Royals’ postseason run has been amazing, but it was also six outs away from not happening, and we don’t want to treat results that could have legitimately gone the other way as evidence that this was a probable outcome. Sometimes, the answer really is just that an unlikely event occurred.

But that can also be a cop-out. We can’t take every example of our expectations not being met as an unlikely event occurring without at least asking if we got the odds wrong. If we just write off all unexpected outcomes as randomness, we’ll create a bubble in which a false sense of our own understanding thrives without being challenged. The Royals’ World Series run doesn’t inherently mean that we should have all seen this coming and my analysis of their team over the last two years has been entirely wrong, but it’d be folly to not at least consider that possibility. Maybe this was randomness shining on the Royals, or maybe I missed something.

What Cameron thinks he missed, more than any specific guesses about individual player performance, was the degree to which it makes sense in baseball to build a just-good-enough team, in a sport in which just-good-enough might be barely better than average:

In other sports, where the value of a top draft pick is so much higher than it is in MLB, the correct decision is often to either be great or terrible, with mediocrity as the awful middle ground. Perhaps too much of that sentiment crept into my own thinking about the upside of building an 85-win team, because in today’s baseball world, 85 wins and a little bit of luck can turn a franchise around. I’ve argued against losing on purpose, but perhaps I’ve argued too strongly for wins in the 88 to 95 range and not strongly enough for wins in the 80 to 88 range. The win curve is a real thing, and some wins are more valuable than others, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve correctly evaluated the marginal benefit of pushing yourself from 82 to 86 wins.

The economic upside of making a serious run now, both through better TV ratings and by engendering future fan interest and loyalty may well outweigh whatever short term payroll savings delayed gratification might confer. All of which suggests that more middling teams might make the kinds of moves the Royals have. And it appears they wouldn’t be crazy to do so.

Henry Abbott on Kobe (Update Below)

ESPN/True Hoop’s Henry Abbott has a damning account of how Kobe Bryant is sabotaging the Lakers. The portrait Abbott sketches isn’t exactly new – Kobe is selfish, difficult to play with and over-estimates his own ability. The Lakers’ decision last year to pay the aging Bryant $24 million a year in a salary capped league struck most people as ill-conceived at the time. The Lakers are bad and don’t appear poised to improve in the next couple of years.

There are a few oddities, though, in Abbott’s account:

1) contrary to a long history of attracting superstar talent, elite free agents have not been interested in recent years in taking their talents to Tinseltown. Abbott blames Kobe for this, which may or may not be true. But among the succession of free agents who have spurned the Lakers in recent years, Abbott mentions Carmelo Anthony, who re-signed this off-season with the Knicks (much to my chagrin). But had ‘Melo signed with the Lakers, this wouldn’t necessarily have helped the team much. That’s not because of “chemistry” either. It’s because ‘Melo – though he did have his best season this past year – is basically a worse version of Kobe. He’s an inefficient shooter and otherwise average or worse at most measurable aspects of performance on a basketball court, apart from rebounding. In other words, the Lakers may be prizing attributes in players that front offices tend to over value, especially those on less successful teams.

2) Abbott fails to mention the league’s decision in December 2011 to kill a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Paul is one of the three or five best players in the NBA. By himself, he would have added substantially to the teams win totals in recent years. It’s true that he might have left as a free agent after the 2012 season. But we don’t know that. That an old and injury-prone Steve Nash didn’t work out in LA tells us little about how Paul would have fared. CP3 was 26 years old at the time of the scuttled deal. He was in his prime and he’s good at pretty much everything on a basketball court. The recent history of the Lakers might not have included additional championship banners. But as Abbott himself says, in a league with few true superstars, possessing one is especially important. Had Paul been on the Lakers, the team’s narrative since 2011 would, I am pretty confident, have been quite different.

3) finally, Abbott says the problem with Kobe is that his skills aren’t so transferable to today’s NBA:

By the old points-per-game measure, he was not just a perennial All-Star but one of the best players ever. But the league has changed around Bryant, and swiftly. The movement of people and the ball, 3s, rim attacks, coordinated defensive effort and generating open shots for teammates are what’s winning now.

As Dave Berri has pointed out many, many times, overvaluing points per game is endemic to the NBA. And it’s not an “old” habit that front offices have outgrown. Nor is it true that shooting a lot, even if inefficiently, was at one time a recipe for success in the NBA. Great NBA teams have generally always featured prominently a superstar who both shot efficiently and could move the ball – Magic, Bird, MJ, Hakeem, LeBron to name a few NBA champions over the past three decades. Kobe’s profile as a player hasn’t changed nearly as dramatically as Abbott suggests. He’s always been overrated because shoot-first guys have always been overrated. Kobe’s just had enough great players around him to help him win a bunch of rings.

Abbott’s piece will generate lots of buzz. But there’s less here than meets the eye.

Update: The teaser line at the top of the article says “Kobe Bryant is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Lakers’ franchise.”

Sorry, this is not serious. To take just one example, Kobe doesn’t hold a candle to Magic, as I’ve previously detailed. The greatest Laker line is a clever little foil for the rest of the piece. But it’s just silly.

Weekend updates – Jameis Winston, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin

1) the ongoing mess that is sports media’s attempt to talk about character is especially apparent in coverage of Jameis Winston. Michael Rosenberg made the appropriate distinctions this week between the knuckle-headed stuff on the one hand and a profoundly serious accusation on the other. As to the latter, as Rosenberg is at pains to point out, Winston has not been found guilty of anything. Nor for that matter, has he even been charged (for apparently disturbing reasons). But commentators frequently toss dopey stuff into the same pot as they do far more disturbing allegations. Then they throw around mindless words like “maturity,” “judgment” and “distractions,” as if a player’s readiness to play and help his team is the ultimate test of that aforementioned “character.”

These already murky waters have been further muddied by new allegations that Winston was paid to sign autographs – a violation of NCAA rules. The prohibition on payment is a joke, of course, a reflection of the NCAA’s hypocritical and incoherent defense of “amateurism.” But while some pundits, like Mark Schlereth, have taken the time to say explicitly that the rule is a “farce,” this latest scandal is only deepening the character morass.

Character is central to sports analysis in order to make plausible a normative agenda – that sports are a morality tale, in which wins and losses reflect higher truths. This is little more than a fairy tale, built on often warped presumptions about what it does and doesn’t mean to be a “good guy.” But I guess that’s the point.

2) It’s apparently news that ESPN ranked Kobe Bryant as only the 40th best player in the NBA heading into this season. Bryant is now 36 years old. He first entered the league 18 years ago. He missed almost all of last year due to injury. As they say, he’s not getting any younger. In 2012-13, a season in which Kobe played quite well, he finished 25th in the NBA in Wins Produced. I know many basketball analysts and fans believe it’s a great skill to be able to take and miss a lot shots. Since I don’t share that view, I will continue to rely upon Wins Produced as the best measure of a player’s overall contribution to his team’s wins. By that measure, assuming Kobe stays healthy, he will be doing well if he finishes in the top 40 in that category this season.

3) I know The Player’s Tribune is getting panned in some corners, but Blake Griffin’s piece about Donald Sterling was kind of interesting. Griffin comes across as self-aware about how athletes are viewed, about the peculiar universe in which they live and about how they are supposed to understand their own roles in the larger world.

I liked it.

Memories

This will be a quickie. Yesterday, Deadspin published a piece questioning claims made by Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican who is vying for Democrat Mark Udall’s U.S. Senate seat, that he played high school football in the early 1990s. Deadspin relied substantially on a former teacher and stats man for the Yuma high school football team, Chuck Pfalmer, who said he remembered Gardner but was definitive that Gardner never played for the Yuma varsity team before he graduated in 1993.

Last night, Pfalmer reversed himself and said definitively that Gardner did play high school ball for Yuma. Deadspin issued a retraction and apology today, describing itself as “sorry and embarrassed” for having “fucked up.”

I was half-tempted when I read the original piece yesterday to blog something quick and snarky about Gardner, a generally awful candidate.  Because I got busy with other stuff, I didn’t. Lucky for me. People’s memories are faulty. We all have our investments in versions of reality that affirm our sense of ourselves. I think Deadspin, as a collective, is generally excellent and I’m broadly sympathetic to their viewpoint. So, of course I will be very forgiving about this screw-up and continue to regard them as generally credible. Indeed, I have little doubt that they’ll re-double their efforts now to make sure they get their story straight when they’re doing original reporting. Folks on the other side of the aisle will not, of course, be so forgiving. And in this case, had the reverse been true – had Breitbart falsely claimed that Mark Udall’s father, Mo (himself a long time former member of Congress) didn’t actually play pro basketball – I’d certainly take that as further confirmation of that which I already believe: that Breitbart, in general, is a collection of ideological hacks.

So it goes.

As a quick aside, the top comment underneath today’s apology gave me a really good laugh:

Fortunately internet comment sections are famously forgiving. I think you guys are in the clear.

Jason Whitlock’s brutal misreading of Martin Luther King, Jr.

A week ago, outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, there was a small protest in support of Mike Brown, the teenager who was shot and killed in August in Ferguson, Missouri. The protest received a lot national media attention because the protesters were confronted by some Cardinals fans, a few of whom shouted garbage like “get a job” and “go back to Africa” and all of that was captured on video.

I didn’t write anything about it at the time, in part because, in the end of the day, those counter-protesters were nothing more than a handful of idiots saying stupid shit. But leave it to Jason Whitlock, all handwringing and tsk-tsking to discover that the *real* affront to all that is good and right outside the stadium were the protesters themselves.

In a particularly outrageous column last Thursday, Whitlock said it was the protesters who were in the wrong. They were responsible for “baiting” those who hurled the epithets at them. They were the ones who represented an affront to the great legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. jr. It was the protesters, in committing the unforgivable offense of chanting things like “let’s go Mike Brown” and “this is what democracy looks like” who were engaging in an equivalent level of “ugliness” as those who told the protesters that they were, by definition, jobless and un-American. In Whitlock’s sometimes bizarre moral universe, being a bigoted moron is no worse than using the word “shit” in a demonstration about police brutality.

And in classic Limbaugh-ian fashion, Whitlock directed much of his fire at the media, allegedly in cahoots with the protesters in lampooning the racists. In other words, it’s not those who spew the bile who are the *real* problem. It’s those who don’t hold their hands and tell them they love them anyway who are really screwing up America.

So that I dot my i’s and cross my t’s, Whitlock did devote a sentence to saying that, yes, what some of the counter-protesters said was ugly. And he did claim – or imply – that the protesters themselves called for Darren Wilson’s murder, which he found particularly disturbing (though having watched the video, I can’t hear any such calls. And in a column on the sensationalist right-wing site Andrew Breitbart.com, in a piece devoted to mocking and belittling the protesters, there is no mention of demands for blood).

But the real purpose of Whitlock’s column is to give us an uninformed lecture on the tactics and legacy of Reverend King. According to Whitlock:

Dr. King was the Michael Jordan of promoting racial equality and advancing the cause of African-Americans. He killed bigots with kindness, intellect and love. His dignified, nonviolent approach to civil disobedience is primarily responsible for the freedoms many African-Americans take for granted today.

Today’s two-bit sloganeers, in purported contrast to everything King believed, scream “no justice, no peace” as part of what Whitlock calls the “uncivil rights” movement. They troll, they bait, they provoke, they scream their own profanities. In this way, they are no better than the bigots whose ignorance it’s so easy to call forth.

The problem with Whitlock’s potted view of King is that it is simply wrong. In his day, King was lambasted constantly for being a provocateur, an impatient man unwilling and unable to appreciate that change only comes slowly, that patience is a virtue, and that deliberately stirring up trouble in places like Birmingham, Alabama made King just as responsible for Bull Connor’s attack dogs and firehoses as was that city’s commissioner of public safety himself. These weren’t the harrumphings of the Klan, by the way. They were the common admonitions of the so-called white moderates, for whom King had famously harsh words, seeing in them perhaps the greater stumbling block to black emancipation than the KKKer. King derided their easily offended sense of decorum, their misplaced aversion to tension and conflict, the latter of which he believed essential if the movement was to achieve its goals:

I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.

Indeed, King understood full well that his choice of targets and tactics might well provoke violence and, indeed, believed that, at times, this would be necessary for the realization of true emancipation. This is why many Americans questioned or openly scorned the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to King (the 50th anniversary of which passed last week and which formed the hook for Whitlock’s ill-conceived column). And King himself only became more impatient and disillusioned over time with the pace and possibility of real transformation in American society.

In sum, Whitlock’s rendering of King has little to do with the reality and context in which King himself lived and died.

In an appearance on Dan LeBatard’s show last Friday, Whitlock made the baffling argument that the protest and its coverage were nothing more than capitalism at work, presumably because the demonstrators were just trying to draw attention to themselves and the media saw an opportunity to post some clickable content. But Does Whitlock think the protesters are now going to ink book deals to tell their stories to cash in on their “fame?”

Whereas there’s no real money in staging small protests, you know what is a lucrative business? Whitlock deputizing himself as the moral scold of black people who dare to be impolite. Whitlock accuses the protesters of “trolling.” That’s rich. Which is exactly what Whitlock’s become by trolling African Americans to salve the conscience of his mainly white audiences.

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Taking aim at the lies and damned lies in sports with stories written by the numbers.

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