Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Overlooked Marco Rubio Scandal

Marco Rubio recently released his book An American Son: A Memoir. You probably saw him on one of the dozens of shows he went on to promote the book. Many of his interviewers commented on Rubio playing football in his youth but all of them seem to have overlooked a potential scandal mentioned in his book.

When Marco was young his family moved from Miami out to Las Vegas. It was there that his family converted to being Mormons but it was also there where the football scandal happened. In Chapter 7 - Growing Up Vegas Rubio describes his third year in Pop Warner football. He describes how he switched teams from the Sooners to the Cavaliers in the hopes of getting more playing time and how his dad became the equipment manager of the Cavaliers - also in an attempt to get Marco more playing time at quarterback. No big deal. That's a story that is played out in almost every town in the country in almost every sport. What makes this story different is what Rubio's dad did as equipment manager.
After Cavaliers games, the parents hung around the field for a while, drinking beer and joking with each other, and my father was welcome in their company. He joined and eventually led an effort to collect money to give as cash prizes to players who scored touchdowns or made the hardest tackles. [Emphasis added]
On the surface a small thing. Just a couple of throw-away sentences describing his third year in Pop Warner. But Rubio had to know what he was describing was wrong.

Rubio is a big football fan. He had to be aware of ESPN doing a big expose on gambling in South Florida on Pop Warner football games. The Outside the Lines piece probably came out just as Rubio was working on his first draft for his book. Playing his youth games in Las Vegas - the gambling capital of the world - isn't it an easy jump to suggest the parents of the Cavaliers were betting on their own kids? Isn't "paying bounties" another way of saying paying cash prizes for the hardest tackles? As a football fan Rubio could not possibly say he doesn't understand what a bounty is.

Of course at this point I admit that this is making a mountain out of a molehill. But the point is Rubio wrote this book as a preemptive vetting process as his name is being tossed around as one of the favorites for Mitt Romney's VP choice. Oftentimes it is the molehills that bring people down or at the least cause out of scale distractions. Just ask former Majority Leader Tom Daschle how the molehill of not paying for a livery service can kill any chance of serving in an Administration. Or ask Barack Obama about the stir caused by a few sentences in his book describing a meal made of dog and how it can be used as a punchline.

Pop Warner pay for play - the overlooked Marco Rubio scandal.