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daydreaming about what a field day they could have had if only . . . But what does a political scandal such as this one tell us that is of lasting value? That politicians lie? That “everybody is on the make”? Ponygate will probably fuel such public cynicisms. After all, here was candidate Bill Clements making use of the word “prevaricate” as a central theme of his battle against Mark White stirring up the feeling that White had lied to the people. And yet on August 19, 1985, when Clements, as chair of the SMU Board of Governors, responded to SMU being put on probation by the National Colegiate Athletic Association for paying a player, he said, “None of us at this table had anything to do with this.” And just a week before his startling admission that he did have something to do with the payment schemes, he responded to the NCAA’s elimination of SMU’s 1987 football season by saying, “But this area of misbehavior is essentially in the alums and the former students, so to speak, and they get overenthusiastic, and they’re doing things that no one knows about.” But the propensity of politicians to trade in half-truths and untruths is by now one of the commonest pieces of folk wisdom. Maybe cultural conclusions will be drawn, too. That, for example, we take football perhaps a mite too seriously here. The newspapers have taken to referring to SMU’s punishment as “the death penalty.” But what kind of death White had fun skewering Clements for a “no pay, no play” program at SMU and speculating on how the election might have been different if only voters had known. penalty is this? SMU will be without a football team for only one season. Granted they won’t have the best players money can buy when they resume a partial schedule in 1988. But a little time in the cellar is good for the soul. We are only a few state borders away but many worlds removed from a place such as the University of Chicago, where Robert Hutchins at the turn of the century eliminated the school’s football program in favor of higher pursuits. Talk about a “death penalty” it was not one year, but several decades before they even started putting together scrub teams again. But the University of Chicago is an egghead institution and they’ve durn sure never produced a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. If students go to college to get an education, those recruited onto the SMU football squad surely got one. They were educated in the ethic of the American business world, which long ago took control of the sports world. They found out, just as the public is continually finding out from watching Washington scandals, that the backroom boys handle the accounts and the politicians cover for them with airy rhetoric. Collegiate football serves as an initiation into the world of professional football. Here athletes meet the worst kind of sports fan there is, the kind that controls professional sports, the business-minded hustler, the pathetic specimen that has drained sports of its true spirit of playful absurdity and childlike fantasy and fun. The Ponygate scandal is good for SMU and it’s good for the state. The university might consider its true purposes as a place for important ideas. And the state might be in the mood to examine the new governor up and down for prevarications. Nothing about the way we conduct sports or business will really change, but in the meantime the scandal makes one hell of a political football. D.D. Gitty-up, pony! CONTENTS FEATURES 2 Political Football Dave Denison 6 What Plays in Peoria Dave Denison 8 Time to Tax Corporate Income Bob Eckhardt 10 Visions of Tax Reform 15 The DOE Gets an Earful Terry FitzPatrick DEPARTMENTS 4 Dialogue 16 Political Intelligence 21 Social Cause Calendar Books and the Culture: 18 A Lonely Man and His Rugs Gary Pomerantz 20 The Message of Bhopal Dana Loy Afterword: 23 Letter From Northern Mexico Louis Dubose THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3