Two big new reports out on Thursday, both confirming opinions expressed here months ago:
1) The FBI’s report of its investigation into a potential racial motive for George Zimmerman to have shot Trayvon Martin — Conclusion: There is absolutely no evidence, zero, that the shooting was racially-motivated. I could’ve told you that — wait, I did tell you that — without a big expensive investigation. If a person were such a racist that he’d shoot one young person of a particular race for no other reason, that person probably wouldn’t simultaneously be volunteering his time to tutor underprivileged young people of that same race. Plus, as I’ve also said before, the evidence seems to me to suggest that Zimmerman did not want to shoot Martin for any reason. Remember, Zimmerman possessed a concealed handgun (and reportedly also a knife) throughout his entire altercation with Martin, which he could’ve pulled out at any time but apparently didn’t pull out until he had sustained substantial injuries in a fistfight with Martin. If Zimmerman had wanted to shoot Martin, it seems likely to me that he would’ve done it earlier in the altercation — he didn’t have to wait until he sustained those injuries.
2) The report of the independent investigation, led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, into the failure of Penn State University officials to report the child sexual abuse perpetrated by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky — Conclusion: Multiple university officials, including the late head football coach Joe Paterno, enabled Sandusky for years with “striking disregard” for the safety of children, in part because of an over-emphasis on sports within the culture of the university. I’ve been talking about the over-emphasis on sports in higher education and in our culture generally for years, and I’ve been talking about it in the context of this particular case for months. Sports are not part of the reason why institutions of higher learning exist — nobody said, “Gee, let’s build an institution of higher learning so that our students can play games against students from other institutions of higher learning.” Institutions of higher learning were created to promote just that, learning, and inter-collegiate sports originated as nothing more than extra-curricular, leisure activities for students. Somehow though, at many universities, emphasis on sports now eclipses emphasis on academics all too often. Our broader cultural over-emphasis on sports over academics is partly to blame, and it’s also partly to blame for the fact that our global economic competitors are now educating alarmingly-higher numbers of people to perform the high-tech jobs of the future than we are. So, as a psychologist, lawyer, MBA, and university faculty member, I say again, for multiple individual and national developmental reasons, we need to get our societal priorities straight and get our focus back on the primary mission, both in higher education and in our broader culture — to develop our young people’s minds — which means we need to get sports back where they belong (not right beneath academics, way beneath academics!).
(P.S. Before I go, speaking of economics, you may recall that last year, I explained the economic and psychological factors that were contributing to a spike in oil prices, and some of my fellow commentators vehemently insisted that I was ignoring substantial manipulation of the world oil market by forces other than supply and demand. So, I’d be interested to hear those folks explain now why oil prices have since dipped so substantially if they maintain that greedy, sinister forces control that market, hmmmmm? In this case, too, it looks to me like you heard it here first!)