- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let’s talk for a moment, if it doesn’t make you too uncomfortable, about the problem of ED.

I’m not talking about Mike Ditka’s ED, I’m talking the Other ED — exotic dancers.

They’re in the sports news again this week. Indeed, the accusations of an exotic dancer have caused Duke University to temporarily suspend operations in men’s lacrosse, pending the outcome of a police investigation. The dancer claims she was hired to perform at an off-campus team party but was pulled into a bathroom, held down, beaten, choked and raped.

Apparently, the Blue Devils, national runners-up a year ago and highly ranked again this season, don’t spend much time reading the paper — or even watching SportsCenter. If they did, they would have heard, just a few months ago, about the Minnesota Vikings and their ED escapades on Lake Minnetonka. The repercussions of the Vikes’ Voyage of the Damned are still being felt, but suffice it to say they have a new coach, a new quarterback and a new code of conduct.

All because of a few lap dances (and other assorted activities).

It’s bordering on an epidemic, this ED thing. Exotic dancers are so important to the esprit de corps of some teams, it seems, that they should probably be listed in the media guide — right after the team chaplain and team psychologist. Remember the infamous Colorado recruiting scandal a couple of years back? Exotic dancers. Remember that whole Gold Club business down in Atlanta, the one that involved Terrell Davis and about half the NBA? Exotic dancers.

But it’s not just athletes who are succumbing to ED. Mike Price, newly hired Alabama football coach, became Mike Price, newly fired Alabama football coach, after an exotic-dancer episode in Pensacola, Fla. Ah, for the simpler times of Morganna the Kissing Bandit. Morganna, whose endowment rivaled Harvard’s, never caused anybody any trouble. She just did her thing — running on the field to smooch sports figures — and went back to her strip club. No muss, no fuss, just a quick buss.

Nowadays, though, exotic dancers seem to bring only rack and ruin — to careers and personal lives. And yet, there’s such casualness about them in sports. Heck, Kris Benson, the Orioles’ southpaw, is married to a former stripper, the statuesque Anna. Then there’s the track athlete at Cal State Fullerton who actually was a stripper — until her coach found out and booted her off the squad.

According to the school newspaper, the Daily Titan, the athlete suspected members of the baseball team of “outing” her — after catching her act one Friday night. (They were all wearing CSUF baseball gear, she said.) The charge brought a classic quote from baseball coach George Horton.

“I’m not nave,” he said. “If I find out a guy went to a strip club, he is not going to get dismissed from the team. As far as our team policy goes, we do not condone that type of behavior or recreation. If they choose to frequent those types of places, the right thing to do is to not wear CSUF clothing.”

The right thing to do. That seems to have gotten lost here. Colorado surely isn’t the only school that’s tried to win favor with recruits by making them feel like … Charlie Sheen. And the Vikings, logic tells you, aren’t the first football team to turn a goal post into a stripper’s pole. Like the man said, we’re not nave.

Just about everybody, moreover, has contributed to this sorry state of affairs. I mean, wasn’t it the NFL that turned the Super Bowl halftime show into — how did they put it? — a Wardrobe Malfunction?

Anyway, it’s time to put a stop to ED — before it’s too late. Maybe athletes (and their keepers) should be required to sign pledges every year, promising not to bet on games, take illegal drugs or hang out in the Kittycat Lounge. It’s for their own good. After all, as the record clearly shows, exotic dancers make people do crazy things.

They also, climatologists fear, may be at least partially responsible for global warming.

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