October 10, 2019 10:47:17 AM
In medicine, it is important to distinguish the symptom from the cause.
In today's edition, we present a story on the use of "hype videos" produced for East Mississippi Community College's football team. The videos, some produced by EMCC staff and others produced by outside sources at a cost of thousands of taxpayer dollars, contain what would probably be considered as objectionable content -- graphic images of violence, sexuality, drugs, gang activity, all generously sprinkled with inappropriate language, including crude sexual and racial terms. Furthermore, music and video clips were used in violation of copyright laws, according to the school president. Additionally, the videos were in violation of EMCC's own "acceptable use" policy.
The videos in question were not used for promotional or marketing purposes. Their sole purpose was to motivate the team the night before each game.
The propriety of the content of the videos is possibly debatable. Some will be offended by the content and question whether tax dollars should be spent on that sort of thing. EMCC's own policy states that answer is "no."
Others will argue the content of the video is simply a reflection of youth culture and ask, reasonably, if the audience -- i.e. the 100 or so people affiliated with the team -- was not offended, what real offense has occurred?
Beyond content, there is the matter of how taxpayer money is being used. Over the past 10 years, EMCC has all but exhausted what was $11-million in its primary operating account. A lot of that budget-busting appears to be attributed to EMCC's highly-successful football team. Last year, the EMCC athletic department spent $2 million while budgeted for just $1.2 million.
While failure to obtain proper licensing and avoid copyright violations aren't likely to result in severe consequences -- the violations were not committed as a means of generating profits and were exposed to a small audience -- those lapses suggest a cavalier attitude toward following the rules.
That the content of the videos violates the school's own "acceptable use" policy also suggests an attitude of indifference, if not defiance.
Readers may draw their own conclusions to how serious any one of these issues may be.
Yet when taken together, we are convinced that each is a symptom of an illness that must be taken seriously.
Together, they paint a picture of a football program that has been left to its own devices without appropriate oversight from school administration.
It's easy to understand that dynamic. Since the arrival of Buddy Stephens as football coach in 2008, EMCC has won an unprecedented five national championships and seven state titles.
There is a saying: Nothing exceeds like excess. In this situation, that can be amended: Nothing exceeds like success.
It seems clear that the success of the team has given Stephens broad, perhaps unquestioned, power.
That power, when so concentrated in one person, can be a dangerous thing.
We fear that until now, the EMCC administration has failed to exercise its oversight responsibilities.
That is the illness. The symptoms are these videos and the lapses of judgment that accompanied them.
EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks, who arrived in January and had no prior knowledge of the videos, seems to understand this. Upon learning of the existence of the videos, he has initiated an investigation and appears to be addressing the illness: a lack of administrative oversight.
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