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Commentary: Hostesses on the recruiting trail

Sex sells. Sensationalizing sex sells even more. Which is why I was not at all surprised by the tack taken in the fourth installment of Sports Illustrated's five-part piece on the wide-spread, decade-long corruption in and around the Oklahoma State Football program.

A big fan of HBO's "The Newsroom," I was, however, surprised by the repeated, and unoriginal theme that pervaded through the piece; with each reference to the suggestion of sexual enticement of football recruits by members of Oklahoma State's Orang Pride "Hostesses" accompanied with the equivalent of "I never did that; but, I may have had a friend who [knows someone that] did."

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In that regard, Sports Illustrated's story of student-athlete sex-capades seemed a bit careless, and - pardon the porn-inspired pun - like a fluffer piece.

Perhaps worse - and going along with the theme of having already been desensitized to much of the what-were-meant-to-shock-and-awe allegations - my only thought was some version of, "well no [crap]."

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All-American-caliber football players have sex with Miss-America-looking co-eds. Always have. Always will. The clichéd caricaturizations in pop culture of the crowned king and queen of Homecoming being the starting quarterback and head cheerleader exist for a reason. The two go together like apple pie and Americana; or, like Jason Biggs' character and an apple pie in American Pie. As stated matter-of-factly in the article, "Hostess programs have been part of college football since the 1960s."

Shaking your head? Google some version of "Olympic Village + Olympic Athletes + Sex + ..." Beautiful, athletic people are drawn to other beautiful, athletic people. "Game recognizes game." Jesus Shuttlesworth's college (recruiting) visit in Spike Lee's "He Got Game" was not the fiction people may think, or that dads of college-aged girls may want to believe.

For better or worse - and this is not a value judgment, a nod of approval, or anything other than a statement of the realities at play - sexual shenanigans and student-athletes (and sorority girls) go hand-in-hand (so to speak); particularly at the games' highest levels; and, as a benchwarmer, I had figurative (and at times literal) front row seats.

Like the Hostesses and players cited in the article, "I never; but I have had a friend who did." At a pep rally welcoming our team back from a victory in the Elite 8, two girls held-high signs reading, "[Starting Player's Name Redacted] I Wanna Be Your Babies' Mama!" (Yes; babies' not baby's. A groupie with real ambition.)

Worse than my lack of overall sympathy for the players detailed in SI's "Fallout" segment? Worse than a numbed sense of desensitization to the use of words like "disposable" and "abandoned" as descriptors of the broken-down former players? Worse than an indifference to reading that "[T]hey're basically being used?"

Worse; indicting upon these players a culpability for their present-day circumstances because of their own complicity in the events that transpired in Stillwater.

Rhoden's conveyor belt theory is equal parts credible and incredulous. The personification of real life events played-out by larger-than-life personalities support the reality of the theory; while - much like the book's title, "Forty Million Dollar Slaves" does - the highs enjoyed by, and praise(s) heaped-upon athletes during the good times make empathy a difficult emotion to feel, and sympathy even harder still.

Boosters-come-benefactors offered them jobs. Schools gave them scholarships. Hostesses (and everyday-coeds) offered-up sex, sans strings. The players chose to be lazy; taking money and hiding on jobsites rather than working hard when given the opportunity to do so. They chose to have tutors take their tests for them; passing on the opportunity of a free education. A 6-foot-6 265-poud football player can certainly say no to - and with 4.3 40-yard dash speed, certainly outrun - even the most seductive (and speedy) of jersey-chasers. Nobody force-fed them drugs and/or alcohol; or to commit crimes (of violence).

I have absolute sympathy for those players improperly and/or cowardly run off of campus or out of town by coaches looking to clear scholarship space. But, for the 99 percent of the "Fallout" born from bad decision-making and resulting from a failure to take advantage of the opportunities otherwise uniquely afforded them by and from football - with and where "advantage" and "opportunity" should be read with only the most positive of connotations - I feel little to no empathy, and even less sympathy.

With momentary apologies to those Powder Puff players and Lingerie Leaguers among you; football players are supposed to be real men. Real men make the right choices; particularly when given the autonomy and freedom to do so. Real men maintain their principles and moral compasses in the face of distractions and temptations to do otherwise. Real men don't sleep with Hostesses. Real men work hard. Real men take responsibility for their actions.

Reach columnist Matt Laczkowski at

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