College Football 'Hostesses' are Sex Bait to Lure Top Recruits

UTThe term “hostess” means different things to different people. It could be someone who seats people at a restaurant, or someone who arranges a party at her house, or it’s a brand of cupcake, or a scantily clad university undergrad sent on a recruiting trip by the athletic department to entice high school football players to come to her university, or…

No joke. News involving that definition of “hostess” has pierced the surface at the University of Tennessee concerning the football program’s recruiting practices, as reported here by the New York Times.

You see, when blue chip players at football-mill high schools around the country are being evaluated by colleges, the competition for their consideration is fierce. A single top QB recruit, for example, could have a dozen major programs vying for his attention.  Marketing 101 dictates that success in a competitive marketplace requires differentiation from one’s competitors. The University of Tennessee interprets that to mean: send nubile female undergrads as sex bait to help make the football recruits’ decisions easier.

This practice is not without its defenders. They claim that “all the big football programs do this,” so why is it a big deal? While it remains to be seen exactly how many programs send “hostesses” on recruiting trips (and I am willing to bet Tennessee isn’t the only one), I think the “why is it a big deal” question hardly deserves an answer. But how about this:  it’s a big deal because universities shouldn’t double as brothels. Athletic directors shouldn’t moonlight as pimps. And female undergrads shouldn’t be fronted as prostitutes. Clear?

Now, let’s spin this news with the Tiger Woods story for a moment and do a little critical evaluation. What do we know about Tiger?  He was a golf prodigy very nearly from birth (on the Merv Griffin show demonstrating his amazing talents at age 2). He was raised to win, and those who would benefit from him winning made sure that he received every accommodation such that nothing would handicap the prodigy from realizing his full potential and all the glory thereunto appertaining. And boy did he deliver. How many hundreds of millions of dollars have been generated by Tiger’s uncanny ability to win? How many people have reaped obscene fortunes from their prized stallion’s performance?

And now we all stand with mouths agape that the golden boy of golf was sexing his way across the country. This is shocking? Quoting from one of his alleged mistresses, “What Tiger wants, Tiger gets.”  Indeed. And that’s a lesson I’m sure he learned long before his sexual appetites developed. It’s a lesson countless sports stars are taught from day one. “Do what you’re supposed to do—win—and you’ll get exactly what you want.”

Isn’t that the same lesson the University of Tennessee, and every university with “hostesses” are communicating to would-be recruits?  By dangling sex in their faces, aren’t they telling them, “Come to our school and win and you’ll get exactly what you want”?

It’s no mystery that sex is an enticement for young men. It’s also true that universities cannot pay athletes (even though the universities make more than the GDP of several countries on the backs of their athletes). But what they can do is bait the athletes with images of excess—keep them addicted to the spoils of winning—and make sure they know that sex is in the air on campus. 

There’s a sense in which the Tiger story is entirely predictable. Behavior is fostered through reinforcement. If you are raised to think you should always get exactly what you want, and that thinking is reinforced by powerful external forces banking on your performance, then your behavior will evidence your belief. Why wouldn’t it? And as long as you’re getting what you want, there’s nothing stopping the behavior from continuing. 

Beyond the degradation of its female undergrads, the University of Tennessee is guilty of morally distorted behavioral reinforcement.  Later, when some of the college football players there go on to the NFL, and one story after another comes out about illegitimate children and paternity suits and broken families—some of the blame should be thrown back at the university for helping to create insatiable gratification gluttons for whom boundaries mean nothing.

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2 thoughts on “College Football 'Hostesses' are Sex Bait to Lure Top Recruits

  1. The NCAA needs to be destroyed. The vast majority of players of top sports and big time programs go nowhere in the pros and make little or no money; but in chasing that dream they put their health, even their lives at risk for years, and at best exert tremendous effort, for nothing.

    We should force colleges to require that if they must have sports, especially football and basketball, that the athletes would have been admitted regardless of athletic ability, and that they thus truly represent the student body. Furthermore we should require that the athletes undertake a full course of real study, not the fraudulent sham that passes for that today. Thus, college sports become a sideshow, and all but irrelevant as far as feeders into the major pro leagues.

    But where would the majors get their recruits? And what of the many young men whose brains are not real college material but are athletically gifted? We should have a system like the English soccer pyramid. Look it up on Wikipedia (“English football league system”). I have no interest in the sport, but the way it’s organized and run in brilliant. It’s the glory days of US minor leaguge ball (when it had AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, and semi-pro), taken much further – with twenty-four layers (!!!!). That is, there is a top-level league, the equivalent of the NFL or NBA. Then there is a nationwide 2nd best league, whose top few teams each year get promoted to the top league, which in turn has its bottom few teams demoted (or “relegated” in their jargon) to the 2nd league. And so on all the way down. A few layers down leagues case to be nationwide on go regional, then more and more local. Theoretically you and your buddies could be an amateur club kicking the ball around, and if you are the champs in your local league, rise a level each year until you hit the big time.

    The most relevant point for this article is, under such a system, an athlete can earn a working class, middle class, or even affluent living in his career, moving up and down the minor league pyramid, before he ever makes the big time, or even if he never does. That’s much fairer and more just than the whole corrupt college scam.

  2. I am amazed that the NCAA is finally turning this into a story. Tennessee has done this for years. Under their previous coach, Phil Fulmer, the “hostesses” were known around the SEC as “Fulmer’s Fillies,” a designation that the women inexplicably accepted with pride. In fact, Fulmer enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best recruiters in college fooball, a reputation no doubt earned, at least in part, by such morally questionable practices.

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