Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Penn State of Disarray

Regular readers of this blog are familiar with the fact that I rarely tackle any serious issues.  However, my blog makes it seriously clear (albeit communicated in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way) that love, support, happiness, good health and development of children should be valued.

Every now and then news so shocking comes to light that it cannot be ignored.

When that shocking event has to do with the livelihood of kids, I feel I have to address it.  This blog, after all, is not about avoiding adulthood and the responsibility that inevitably comes with it.  Rather, it is about embracing and fulfilling that responsibility.  While I comment often on being a kid at heart, my ramblings are essentially about accepting the accountability of adulthood and parenthood.

It is with great frustration, then, that I have watched reports and gathered information regarding the accusations against former Penn State football assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.  This man’s alleged acts are disgusting.  I am convinced there is already a special place reserved in hell for him and the sooner he arrives to occupy it, the better.

While Sandusky’s preying upon children from dysfunctional backgrounds is unmistakably evil, it is the others involved in their covering up that I wish to call out onto the carpet…

Per news reports, Mike McQueary observed Sandusky having anal sex with a boy estimated to be 10 years of age at the time of the incident.  At the time, he was a graduate assistant at the school.  I am only speculating (but doing so confidently) that the fact that he left the scene and called his father and head coach Joe Paterno for advice on what to do rather than the police led to his appointment to his current position as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.  You can say hindsight is 20/20 and while McQueary’s actual vision may have been significantly less than this, he should have plainly seen that any act short of grabbing Sandusky by the throat, pulling him off of the young boy and calling the police was an under-reaction.

Tim Curley, Athletic Director during the time in question, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business (you see where his priorities lie by his title) Gary Schultz were notified by both Paterno and McQueary that something had happened shortly after McQueary witnessed it.  But, being higher ups in a major college football program, they avoided scandal by giving the classic administrative cover-up answer: “We’ll look into it.” 

Nine years later, Sandusky and both these scumbags are officially charged. 

Sandusky has been hit with forty counts.  The criminal behavior existed prior to Curley and Schultz’s awareness of the matter to be sure, but think of how many fewer victims there may have been had they handled it properly nine years earlier as they should have.  But they wanted to save their jobs and the school millions of dollars and keep it near the top of the Division I ranks, so who can blame them for prioritizing the almighty dollar above the health and happiness of the disadvantaged youth they were claiming to help?  The answer is, me.  I blame them.

Joe Paterno, I don’t care how old you are or how many stupid college kids follow you around campus shouting that you are a saint.  You were told something unacceptable happened.  You proclaim yourself to be a leader of young men, someone who molds them into the future of our great society.  You cannot be this and a man who would stand idly by and pretend such atrocities were none of your business.  The fact that you are sticking around to the end of the season proves that you care more about your legacy than the welfare of the victims.  Furthermore, the fact that you smile into the cameras and shout, “I want you too,” in return to the chants of, “We want Joe,” from the aforementioned stupid college kids makes you the first eighty-four year old I have ever wanted to punch in the face.

Athletics are meant to build leadership, courage and determination in our youth.  Properly coached football results in the highest potential of any sport to foster the ever so important word I mentioned above: Accountability.  A football coach teaches each individual player to rely on the other ten players around them to fulfill their responsibilities.  If you fill the wrong gap, over-pursue or miss your blocking assignment, you let the rest of the team down and that same coach will let you hear about it.  How is it, then, that a program, which should have known all about accountability, practiced none?

This shocking lack of accountability has been demonstrated on every level.  This sick predator was allowed to practice his craft for years under the wing of the school.  Multiple school officials had ample opportunity to end it and chose instead the cowardice of turning a blind eye and avoiding the difficult road that the scandal would bring.  The leaders of the program made terrible decisions, failed to cover their gaps and whatever troubles the future holds for Penn State football are deserved.

But, of course, nobody will suffer more than Sandusky’s numerous victims already have and will, victims whose trust in their leaders resulted in abuse.  An authority figure meant to teach them life lessons about courage and accountability through sport has, instead, significantly impacted their ability to trust anyone.

Somehow, in the midst of the ridiculous display of support for an undeserving Joe Paterno, the tragedy that has befallen these victims has been lost.  The only issue that matters is the darkness forced into the lives of the victims.  Yet this has been covered less than what this scandal means for Penn State football and the legacy of Joe Pa.  I hope that these victims might find some peace in the justice that will be doled out in the months and, no doubt, years to come.  My thoughts are with them and their families as I hope yours are as well.

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