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Baffoe: In Steubenville, Sports Are More Important Than Rape

By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) Reno Saccoccia is not a condition that involves flesh-eating bacteria breeding inside one's kidneys. Nor is it a casino featuring the comedic stylings of Carlos Mencia. It's neither of those awful things.

It's a high school football coach. And a damn good one at that.

"The 63-year-old Saccoccia became the head coach at Steubenville in 1983," according to The Atlantic, "inheriting a winning team from Bob Hedmond. Before Hedmond, who coached for just one year in 1981, Big Red sputtered through several seasons with a winning percentage around 50 percent—disappointing by Ohio's big-time standards for high-school football. Under Saccoccia, that winning percentage has ballooned to about 85 percent, with his teams winning 311 of 367 games as Steubenville High came to be an emblem for a town with a history of corruption, even as its economy bled jobs and fast. Big Red, it seemed, just didn't lose…"

Know why Big Red just didn't lose? Because Coach Sac is about more than just football. He's a teacher of the game on the field and the greater game off of it. Just look at how he commands a room by yelling random phrases in front of a sign that reads "THE LEVEL OF ONE'S SUCCESS IS IN DIRECT PROPORTION TO HIS COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE." Coach Sac is successful, and that's because he's committed to excellence.

So committed, in fact, that he made sure not to act regarding rape allegations made against two of his players until eight games into the season even after finding out in August about the boys-will-be-boys-who-are-sexual-predators incident. He then upped the ante by claiming he didn't "do the Internet" and threatening a reporter who dared pry into the doings of the pride of a crumbling town of people who rely on labor jobs rather than those requiring book learnin'.  Employers are always impressed by such a level of commitment, as was evidenced this week when Steubenville High School and Successful Classiness Factory extended the contract of Ol' Sacaroony.

This raised more than a few eyebrows among whiners who will try to tell you that a person's genitalia is not to be touched without permission, but what real Americans like Steubenvillains… Steubenvillians understand is that sports are and will always be more important than sexual assault. Sports make us feel good. Rape does not, especially if you have to listen to someone talk about it. Bor-ring, am I right?

There are over 200,000 instances of rape a year. Gets a little mundane after a while. There is only one Super Bowl. Which are you dedicating a whole Sunday (and maybe even a Monday if your boss is cool) to? 44% of rape victims are children. If you hit a baseball at that rate you'd be considered the greatest player ever.

I mean, look at Mike Tyson. The former heavyweight champ did three years in prison for rape, converted to prison Islam (which is the kind of Islam that even Al-Qaeda thinks needs to be toned down a bit), and would later bite Evander Holyfield's ear off and get a massive face tattoo, and there is still not a middle class family in Idaho that wouldn't seat him at their dinner table if the opportunity arose. He's America's Probably Non Compos Mentis Sweetheart.

And speaking of sweethearts, Jerry Sandusky raped a bunch of boys while he worked at Penn State… and while he was no longer employed there but was allowed to frequent Penn State facilities… and while he was being considered for a head coaching position at PSU's Altoona branch. It was as if high ranking officials in Happy Valley, including Joe Paterno, tapped Coach Sac because they were committed to the success of the football program over justice and the safety of former and future rapees.

It's not difficult to find the parallels of awesome between Penn State and Steubenville. Powerful idol coach worshipped religiously, followers justifying poor behavior by citing hollow intangible life-shapings and blaming others, bullying people that got themselves raped, exalting a prophet determined to find the truth after making sure to plug his own self-interests first, "We Are,"etc.

But while those two are getting the lion's share of the glory for making sure people get to enjoy their sports even at the price of human decency and human dignity, there are some lesser-known heroes out there trying to ensure sports help condone a rape culture. Take the case of a basketball star in Michigan. Luckily people there rallied together after a few pesky rapes to try to make sure the beloved athlete still got recruited by a Division 1 college. There was some good ol' fashioned victim-blaming recently in Connecticut. Seems we've been able to forget about a case at Mizzou where the accused left the school after his second dabbling in sexual assault. Steve Alford defended his rapey player even after knowing of a plea deal, and such tenacity has helped him move up the coaching prestige ladder all the way to saintly John Wooden's UCLA.

Almost twenty years ago a study showed that college athletes rape people more often than non-athletes. Yet we still have college athletes, don't we? And some of them are still raping successfully, aren't they? This is because we love sports more than we love rape. Or hate rape. Whichever.

Luckily for us fans, we can take solace in knowing that there will always be rape apologists to keep our athletes dunking and touchdowning and goal-scoring and raping. Crusaders like Royal Mayo (that's an actual person's name), this not-crazy-at-all woman, and Steubenville assistant coach Nate Hubbard, who said "The rape was just an excuse, I think. What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?  She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it." Brave souls who will release the names of alleged victims because if you're going to try to have the American justice system work for you, your orifices and psyche are damn well going to be under the public microscope. Likely people like these will go to bat for Coach Sac when a grand jury starts hearing witness testimony to see if more great people should suffer because of a girl who went and got raped.

Regardless of how the Steubenville aftermath or other cases like it shake out, we'll always have sports as a respite from sexual assault. To paraphrase the fine actor and hell of a rape qualifier in his own right, Keanu Reeves: rape, like the pain on the field, heals. Chicks dig scars—except emotional and psychological ones. Glory lasts forever.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America's youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim's inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don't follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago's Beverly To read more of Tim's blogs click here.

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