Armstrong shows issues in sports culture

Ken Armstrong, co-author of “Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity,” broke down his investigative research regarding the actions of the 2000 University of Washington football program during a visit to campus Oct. 10.

Armstrong’s book, which was chosen for the 2013-14 University of Wisconsin-Platteville Campus Read, chronicles the criminal actions of a handful of players and the inaction by UW administrators and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The Campus Read Program was created last year as a way to encourage students to read a book that engages in thoughtful discussion and reflection

Students and staff had the opportunity to vote on a book in a campus survey.

“This is the first time that we’ve been asked to participate in a campus read program,” Armstrong said. “It is not an easy book for a program like this. Nick (Perry, co-author) and I were very touched when this campus asked us to do this for their program.”

Amy Nemmetz, director of UW-Platteville’s First Year Experience program, said the inaction of the administrators and the Prosecuting Attorney stood out to her when reading the book.

“I focused so heavily on the justice system and the inconsistency [within it,]” Nemmetz said. “For me, it was less about football and more about how we set students up to fail.  My heart breaks when I see victims and they’re re-victimized over and over again.”

For many sportswriters, analysts and fans, the 2000 Husky football season was historical, magical and a monumental year, as told by their coverage of the team.

Armstrong and Perry went beyond this coverage, to unveil a history of offenses and lack of disciplinary actions. Armstrong and Perry first published their findings in a series of articles published in the Seattle Times.

They later wrote “Scoreboard, Baby.”

Minimal consequences were given to players that committed serious crimes, including rape and attempted murder, partly to prevent the deterioration of the team’s chance of winning the Rose Bowl.

Another topic Armstrong discussed during his visit was the community and national response to the Seattle Times’ articles and “Scoreboard, Baby.”

“Nationally, the work got a lot of praise, but it’s easier to appreciate a work when it’s not one’s program being written about,” Armstrong said. “A lot of people thought that we were tarnishing this treasured memory. A lot of people thought there was a vendetta between the newspaper and the football team. Our role is not to be a booster to the program. Our role is to report what we find. That’s what we were doing in this instance.”

Armstrong also stressed how not all universities and not all players on the UW football team were lumped into a criminal category.

One player on the 2000 Washington football team found his life’s mission during a study abroad trip to South Africa.

Anthony Kelley grew up in a rough neighborhood in Pasadena, and was one of the highest recruited seniors in his class out of high school.

He flirted on the academic eligibility line while playing at UW.

Kelley, however, sought to improve himself.

Kelley was the first UW football player to earn a scholarship and study abroad in South Africa while still playing football.

Although his play slipped, he managed to go from a 2.0 GPA to graduating with a 2.83 GPA, and raised enough money to bring some of the young South African girls he met abroad to Seattle to perform a dance at various venues.

“Anthony Kelly brightened up a lot of the dark stuff they talked about in the book,” Melissa Heinrich, senior media studies major, said. “I remember after reading that chapter about him that I really [liked him].”

After giving a short presentation to students in a professional writing class, Armstrong spoke to a philosophy class, held a short press conference and ate dinner with campus leaders.

In addition, Armstrong signed books and engaged in one-on-one conversations with students, staff and faculty.