Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - November 17, 2011

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 59 of 59

Getting down to games a welcome distraction THE VOICE MATT LEPAY • VOICE OF THE BADGERS T his time last week I was be- ginning to dislike sports. Col- lege football has had enough bad news already. I believe most fans have grown tired of reports about NCAA investigations. Then there was the stunning story from Penn State last week. Certainly we should allow for due process, but the allegations regard- ing a former assistant coach has stirred the full range of human emotions, and who knows how the story will advance. There is no need to rehash the details of the grand jury present- ment. The testimony is brutal, but other than the Bob Costas interview with Jerry Sandusky on Monday night, we have heard little from the other side. Still, like any number of people, I was very angry. Clearly, this is a story that goes well beyond sports, but it involves a program and a university that is as respected as any in America, in a beautiful town I truly enjoy visit- ing. While the focus should always be on victims of abuse anywhere in the world, I suppose the fact that a coaching icon is out of a job and facing a very uncertain future is part of what put me in a nearly week-long fog. For much of last week, I ques- tioned why I should even bother promoting anything sports-related. From the NFL and NBA labor issues, where those involved try to tell us "It's all about the fans," (memo to those people: SHUT UP!), to NCAA infractions, to the news from Central Pennsylvania, 60 » VARSITY NOVEMBER 17, 2011 we have seen the sports world at its worst. As the week went on, I finally had to remind myself that sport simply reflects society. The world of fun and games is made up of the same mix of people as any other walk of life. There are very good people, very bad people, and every- thing in between. While it is impor- tant to document the bad, it can be helpful to celebrate the good. That is what I tried to do. For some, scoreboard watching can be nerve- wracking. For me, it was medicine. That kind of drama beats some of the alternatives any day of the week. I found it therapeutic to talk to Badger players and coaches as they prepared for last week's game at Minnesota. I enjoyed listening to Russell Wilson describing his first history lesson regarding the series. It is always fun to talk to those involved in this game, as they describe what it means to keep pos- session of Paul Bunyan's Axe. Last Friday night, there was a high school football playoff game in a Minneapolis suburb. One of the coaches is a rather familiar name to Badger fans — Brooks Bollinger, who led his team to victory. I al- ways have had the utmost respect for Bollinger, and if he decides to continue in the coaching profes- sion, my guess is he will be a great asset to the game. It was fun to watch Brooks Bollinger the player. I was able to smile watching Coach Bollinger last Friday evening. On Saturday, I watched the Ne- braska-Penn State pregame, when players and coaches from both programs met in the middle of the field for a prayer. Perhaps at that moment, a healing process began. As the day moved along, fans could watch the drama of close games, which is exactly what we were doing in our radio booth just before the Badgers and the Go- phers got underway. We had two TV monitors, one with the Purdue- Ohio State game. The other was showing Nebraska-Penn State. Both were of tremendous interest to Badgers fans, and we were able to keep our listeners informed on those two down-to-the-wire affairs. Yeah, given the results, that is easy to say, but for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, sports had re- turned to its rightful place of being a distraction from the real world. As I was watching those two games, followed by describing Wisconsin- Minnesota, I was not thinking about grand juries, infraction com- mittees, and all of the other ugli- ness in sports and in life. For some, scoreboard watching can be nerve-wracking. I get it, but I respectfully disagree. For me, it was medicine. That kind of drama beats some of the alternatives any day of the week.

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