What ails our sports culture in America today?

Witness the recent video showing a Rutgers University basketball coach lambasting his players. This despicable behavior flies in the face of our national disdain for bullying and intimidation. This loutish thug was summarily fired, after pulling down a salary of $750,000. This at a state university, funded by New Jersey taxpayers. Other heads rightfully rolled at Rutgers.

Up here, a hapless UMaine hockey coach is relieved of his duties — and gets a $195,000 “buyout” (one year’s salary) — plus a $5,000 “in lieu of notice.” Notice of what? That the guy just wasn’t winning anymore?

“Coaching with tremendous integrity” doesn’t mean squat if you aren’t winning. Apparently, this buyout emanates from “private sources” and that “no funds will be reallocated from the current university budget committed to academic programs, faculty, student or operational needs.” Thank heavens!

I bitterly resent the deplorable antics, preposterous salaries and generous buyouts for unacceptable behavior in sports of all stripes — and at all levels.

This, while too many Maine youngsters wanting to play baseball will sit out this season because of escalating fees. That buyout from those chubby private sources would put about 2,785 disadvantaged Maine kids on ball fields this summer, along with their coaches — who willingly and selflessly volunteer their time to nurture character, team spirit and good clean fun.

Lots of talk lately about entitlements, sequesters and taxing the well-fed. Defense budgets. Foreign aid. Gun registration. Childhood obesity. We can’t get out of Afghanistan soon enough for me.

But when we get to where we can’t provide the basic funding to enable a deserving youngster an opportunity to participate in our national pastime — then we’re well past the time to rethink our priorities.

Buddy Doyle, Gardiner

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