The AJ-C brings us the next chapter in the Josh Jarboe saga. And you don’t have to read any further than the headline to know where it’s going: Lawyer: Ex-Sooner Jarboe ‘victim of technology’. We’re told the kid is in a state of shock after the dismissal.
There are some valid points in Jarboe’s defense raised in the article. “Victim” aside, there’s something to be said about the generational and cultural gap here between the judgment makers and the student athlete:
“Five years ago, this never would’ve made it out of the dorm,” says J. Brent Clark, a lawyer in Norman, former NCAA enforcement officer and author of a book about Sooner football. “Josh Jarboe has been victimized by technology. He wasn’t doing anything different than thousands of young people across the country, in terms of making up his own rap lyrics. What Josh did was normal activity for his age group, his ethnicity and his interests.
“Was it poor judgment? Yes,” Clark adds. “But what kind of standard are we holding these kids to? I don’t know a 50-year-old white male who has any clue about dorm life in 2008 — and I’m a 50-year-old white male.
“But who are the decision makers? Fifty-year-old white men.”
And my first thought on reading the story about his dismissal mirrored Bob Stoops’ attitude about it.
… Even Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops initially seemed to defend Jarboe against the Internet’s intrusiveness. “Kick a guy off the team for what he says?” Stoops told The Oklahoman. “Now we’re in people’s homes, in their private spaces.”
On the other hand, how much effort does it take to realize that rapping about gun violence in the wake of being kicked out of high school for a weapon violation probably isn’t the smartest behavior? And technology cuts both ways here – Jarboe’s generation is far more familiar with cell phone videos and Facebook than the 50 year old white guys who passed judgment on him. So shouldn’t he have been at least somewhat aware of what could happen when his teammate held up a phone to capture the moment?
Still, I don’t doubt this:
“He called me, crying like a baby,” says Jarrett Harper, an assistant coach at Cedar Grove. “He didn’t know what he’d done wrong.”
Jarboe’s hurting now, but that’ll pass. After all, as the article mentions,
… Coaches say a string of schools have called — from Big Ten and SEC programs to historically black colleges. He’s eligible to play this season and could choose a new school this week.
He’ll survive. If he learns from the experience, that’ll say something about his character and maturity. If there are more bad decisions down the road, maybe those 50 year old white guys knew something after all.
UPDATE: Barnhart explores the mindset of those 50 year old white guys with this thought:
… Here is the harsh reality of this situation. This is really not about Jarboe or some kind of clash of cultures or a generational misunderstanding.
This is about the fact that in April of 2007 a crazed student walked into a Virginia Tech classroom building and murdered 32 people. It’s about the fact that there were some signs that the killer at Virginia Tech was prone to violence. But nobody picked up on those signs until it was too late.
What if Oklahoma, knowing Jarboe’s background, had just let the video incident slide? Now consider the unthinkable. What if the ultimate horror story takes place and someone’s child is killed at Oklahoma with Jarboe holding the gun?
Jeebus. If the mindset here is that nobody knows what sort of madness may lurk in Jarboe’s soul, it’s time to question – seriously question – what Bob Stoops is doing on the recruiting trail. If the guy can’t even figure out when he’s recruiting a sociopath… good grief.
Look, the kid’s exercised some serious errors in judgment, enough that there’s a legitimate concern that he might go back to the well again and do something stupid – this time, on the Sooners’ dime. Given its recent experience with the job market for its players, Oklahoma doesn’t need any more embarrassment these days. It seems to me you can justify that call. But to take it to the level of “we can’t take the risk he turns out to be a mass murderer”? Wow.