Over the past few months, it has become apparent that there is a lot more going on in college sports than meets the eye. With the allegations of NCAA violations coming against high profile athletes like Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo of USC, one can only ask how many other athletes and colleges have been involved in similar situations.
Do we really want to know?
In light of the way things like the Mitchell Report and Spygate have turned out, I'm not sure if we do.
The Mitchell Report, as we all know, began as little more than a witch hunt incited by Barry Bonds, the disgruntled and somewhat unpleasant slugger pursuing the most hallowed record in all of sports. What resulted was an assault on some of the biggest names in baseball.
"Spygate" was little different. Instead of simply revealing the extent of the Patriots' cheating, Commissioner Goodell's investigation has revealed that videotaping and stealing signals through other means is a relatively common practice. In fact, it would seem that this type of activity is more the rule than the exception.
So my question relating to the allegations of NCAA corruption is this: do we really want to know?
Do we really want to know how widespread the corruption is?
Do we really want to know how many teams and players have been tainted by violations similar to those that apparently took place at USC?
Do we really want to know how many championships and records have been achieved through less than honest means?
If the Mitchell Report and Spygate are any indication, I don't think we do.
I don't know how many times I've heard some weathered basketball purist argue that college sports are so much more real and true than professional sports, since amateur athletes play for "the love of the game."
"Those guys (and gals) go out there and play just because they love to play!" they'll say. "They don't need any money to play the game they love."
As it turns out, that may not always be the case.
If a complete investigation is conducted and it turns out that what happened at USC is happening across the country, how will it affect the perceived holiness and purity of the college game?
If ultimately we determine that it's better to know how deep the rabbit hole of corruption goes than to go on assuming that everything is hunky dory, then there can be no turning back. Once we open the box that is corruption in college sports, there will be no chance of ever unlearning what we discover.
There is more than a little chance that some of the all-time greats may be seen in a different light.
It may turn out that ignorance, after all, is bliss.
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