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Spencer Hall takes issue with the “religious” sticker in Serena Roberts’ Auburn reporting:

We live in the most religious portion of the country, a place where a lot of people who self-identify as “spiritual” routinely have irresponsible sex with disastrous consequences, shoot each other over absolutely nothing, cheat on their spouses, stump for openly fraudulent businesses, write medieval gibberish into the legal code, and demand it be granted some kind of face value on the basis that someone goes to church. The best people we have ever known go to church. The worst people we have ever known went to church. Pardon us if the term has an ambiguous value at best with a data set showing little correlation between practice and theory.

We’re fine if you’re openly religious, or if you’re not, but for anyone writing accurately about a situation this is a descriptor that contains no demonstrable value. She simply wants you to take it for granted that being religious means something, just as half the sportswriters in the world took Ray Lewis’ religiosity as a given unit of virtue without pointing out that Ray Lewis doesn’t give a dime to charity. It is the same press that hasn’t ever asked a single question about the Tebow family’s work in the Philippines, and instead just assumes missionary work is a net good. (This is far from accurate: there’s great missionary work, and disastrous missionary work, and a lot that falls in between. In Tebow’s case, no one has ever bothered to look, or even ask. It’s just taken prima facie.) This is the same press that bought the greased sainthood of Manti Te’o in some part due to his Mormon faith and Notre Dame’s god-haunted mystique.

Denver Westword medical marijuana critic William Breathes does a Q&A with The Daily Beast:

In that context, what do you feel like the value is of a column like yours is?

Someone asked me that recently and I hate—I mean, I don’t want to sound like some arrogant asshole. To be really honest with you, it’s still really strange and … I’m still like, “It’s really fucking cool that I have this job!” But what I think the biggest role of my job or of anyone who has this position is that having a column that deals with marijuana in it every week normalizes it and puts it out there for everyone. They can go to to get news about the state legislature, or about education, about the prison system—and about marijuana. It’s not the old-school media approach to marijuana, where it’s like, “Let’s see how many pot puns we can cram into the lede and how many jokes we can make at the expense of marijuana smokers.” We definitely make jokes at the expense of marijuana smokers, but we also take news very seriously.

We’ve seen other news outlets come around on that. The Denver Post—and I’m not trying to pick on another news media outlet—but for the longest time, their pot coverage was shit. It just was. Every time it was just them making fun of the pot smokers. But in the last year, they’ve realized that it’s important, and it’s not just 20-something stoners tuning in to figure out what’s going on. People wanna know because it’s a viable, million-dollar industry. In the sense of the media, that’s been an important role for my job.

In the Miami Herald, Dan Le Batard talks about the gross imbalance of power in the NCAA:

The athletic director is supposed to be checks-and-balances for the coach, but he can’t be when the athletic director’s success and career are tied to the coach’s. What should be boss-employee becomes muddled when the coach is more famous and makes more money and holds the boss’ job in his hands just as much as the reverse is true. The coach makes the guy who hired him look good or bad, and brings in that money from boosters, and nobody can really be the boss in cases of morality when the boss governing all from above is the dollar. That’s how this happens, and that’s how Penn State happened, the only real difference being the way the kids were abused in the name of program protection.

But Rutgers is just a tiny side effect of the real disease, the nosebleed that finally reveals the cancer. The authorities have too much of the power, and the free labor has none, so you essentially have two multibillion-dollar cartels (the NFL and NBA) getting free minor-league systems while conspiring with another cartel (the NCAA) to mine the inner cities for product. Amateur sports are just pro sports in disguise, all the injustices rationalized away in the name of “teaching” and “education,” but all we really learned last week (with Rutgers, with the Pac-12, with Auburn, with UM and the NCAA) is that power is one hell of a drug, and it is easy for the authority figures governing the injustices to overdose on it.

My Stuff From ChicagoSide This Week

- My 25 favorite Roger Ebert sports movie reviews 

- A bearded, Cosby-sweatered Jay Cutler addresses urinal rumors and admits to mailing his engagement ring.

- Should the Bears draft USC QB Matt Barkley if he’s available when they pick at No. 20?

Quick Reads

- 30 great Simpsons screenshots [Buzzfeed]

- New PAC launches to support bearded candidates [The Hill]

- Circus elephant OK after drive-by shooting [Gulflive]

- Medical marijuana for pets? [High Times]

- 11,000 pounds of Nutella stolen in Germany [ABC News]

- US Navy shows laser shooting down a drone [BBC]

- Wrestlemania 29 marred by inconsistent officiating [The Onion]

Food Porn

Bacon and Merkt’s cheddar stuffed burger at Lockdown

Sausage, pepperoni, and salami @ Coalfire

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