Whitlock: Northwestern football whistleblower exposes the dangers of secret-society hazing

 The not-so-anonymous whistleblower is the lone hero in the Northwestern football hazing scandal that cost Coach Pat Fitzgerald his job and reputation.

The former player and backup quarterback brought down a popular, successful, and well-intentioned bully. 

The whistleblower will suffer because of it. His former teammates will ostracize him. He’ll be regarded as a snitch and be seen as weak. His motives will be questioned. He’ll be blamed for ruining the “golden era” of Wildcat football, a 17-year stretch of pigskin competence that saw the school transform itself from cupcake to formidable opponent to top-25 program.

The outed informant’s name will live in infamy across the school’s campus and throughout the Big Ten.

Heroism comes with a heavy price tag. This kid will pay it.

There are no other heroes in this story. Certainly not school president Michael Schill, who initially ruled that Fitzgerald’s obvious willful ignorance about a pattern of sexualized, naked hazing within the Northwestern locker room warranted a two-week suspension. Schill did everything in his power to protect the winningest coach in Northwestern history. He did not fire Fitzgerald until the whistleblower forced the issue by reporting the sordid details of the Wildcats’ hazing rituals. 

The student journalists at the Daily Northwestern are not heroes either. They simply reported what the whistleblower told them. Their rewards for doing so have already started to trickle in as professional sports writers from across the country tweet their praises as a way of elevating their own importance. 

The former players who confirmed the whistleblower’s account of the football team’s culture of hazing are not heroes either. They’re simply honest. Honesty is not an act of heroism — or at least it shouldn’t be. Honesty is a reflection of integrity. There will be no harsh consequence for the young men who co-signed the informant’s allegations.

Some of the anonymous players piling on Fitzgerald’s carcass are opportunists extracting a measure of revenge against a coach who challenged them in ways that made them uncomfortable. The Daily Northwestern published a ridiculous story accusing Fitzgerald of “enabling racism” because he and his coaching staff promoted clean-cut appearances that frowned on dreadlocks.

“Your blackness was not allowed to shine through, whether it was how you carried yourself all the way down to your hair,” complained an anonymous former player.

I’m not here to defend Pat Fitzgerald. His calculated, willful ignorance enabled a pattern of hazing. He needed to be fired. But there’s no credible evidence that he’s a racist. There’s far more proof that this anonymous player is an idiot who thinks “blackness” is a hairstyle, not a skin color. Short of Fitzgerald asking players to bleach their skin, there’s no way of him stopping someone’s “blackness” from shining through.

The former player should worry about his idiocy shining through.

I digress. I want to explain how the hazing culture at Northwestern likely developed. 

Over the last 35 years, the NCAA, at the behest of the media, has taken consistent action to limit a coach’s time with and influence over his or her players. Coaches have responded by leaning into player leadership councils that enforce discipline and maintain culture.

In the last decade, many coaches have developed an outright fear of their players. An old-school coach trying to instill old-school values runs the risk of being labeled as a racist or as being out of touch. Corporate media pretty much always sides with the players in a dispute with a “conservative” football or basketball coach.

The addition of the transfer portal has accentuated this problem. Coaches are now constantly recruiting their current players. They fear imposing discipline. They encourage the players to discipline themselves. The coaches set up players-only “safe spaces” — alleged sanctuaries for privacy. The reality is these safe spaces are zones for player-imposed discipline. The coaches do not want to know what goes on in the locker room. The raunchy and violent rap music played inside most locker rooms is off-putting to old-school coaches. The players-only locker rooms protect the coaches more than the players.

Now, a smart coach further insulates himself by opening each season by giving a speech that strictly forbids all forms of hazing.

Based on all reports, Pat Fitzgerald is a smart man. He played football at and graduated from Northwestern. As a player, assistant, and head coach, Fitzgerald spent 26 years at the elite university.

Familiarity, school pride, favored son status, and a need for a unique competitive advantage all likely combined to convince Fitzgerald to look away as his players established a culture of hazing.

Hazing works. It builds unity. That’s why fraternities and other secret societies use it. Yale’s Skull & Bones secret society has produced some of the most powerful Americans in history, including the Bush political dynasty. According to credible reports, Skull & Bones requires members to masturbate inside coffins and participate in anal stimulation (sodomy).

Pat Fitzgerald is the Prescott Bush of college football.

If you follow my analogy, that would make the Northwestern whistleblower the Jim Garrison of college football. Garrison was the infamous New Orleans district attorney, the only man to bring charges against the people involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.

Whitlock: Northwestern football whistleblower exposes the dangers of secret-society hazing Whitlock: Northwestern football whistleblower exposes the dangers of secret-society hazing Reviewed by Your Destination on July 12, 2023 Rating: 5

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