Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State, what the heck?

Okay. So, it looks like one of the assistant coaches at Penn State was caught molesting kids he was supposed to be helping (through a charity he set up). Someone sees it, goes to Joe Paterno. Paterno doesn't call the cops. The administrators who find out don't call the cops.

When the stuff hits the fan (This, kids, is another reason to tell the truth and do what's right: if you try to cover crap up, it starts to smell after a while), Paterno says he's retiring. Then the regents fire him.

Then the campus goes nuts. Students are "rioting" (as they said on the radio here, though the rioting looks more like property damage than anything - I think of rioting as being more violent towards people, but still - if they figure out who damaged property, they should at a minimum be made to pay for it).

This tells me two things:

First, football has become far, far too important on college campuses. Look, the former defensive coordinator was DIDDLING KIDS. I know people who think that should be a capital offense - as in, you go to Old Sparky, too bad, so sad, you should have thought of it when you had those unnatural urges.

I tend to think that Paterno SHOULD be out for not having said anything. While I don't know that there would be a way to deal with this without it coming out big and bad in the press (and maybe the public humiliation will cause other programs to examine what's going on that might not be above-board), Paterno and all the others involved should have called the cops the first they knew of the situation. I don't have any heartbreak over the administrators who apparently tried to cover it up being fired. Anyone implicated in the cover-up should be fired.

Because, isn't it true, that you're complicit in a crime if you see it being committed, and you do nothing to stop it? Isn't there such a thing as accessory-after-the-fact.

Part of my strong reaction to this is that I consider child molestation to be one of the worst, if not THE worst crime, a person can commit. Because what they have done is destroyed a young person's trust, stolen their innocence, and set that child on a path that they - and those who are going to try to help them - will have to work VERY hard to correct. (These were ten year old boys. I am not sure how I'd feel if they were 18 year old new football recruits. I'd still be disgusted, I'd still think the defensive coordinator should be fired and do jail time (if it could be proven the encounters were non-consensual))

But my second thought on this is disgust at the students who rioted. For one thing, it makes me wonder if they care more about their football program than the lives of the kids that Sandusky harmed. (And I think, from all I've heard, it's pretty cut-and-dried that YES it was him and YES he did what he is accused of). And for another: if you disagree with a decision your university makes, you do NOT protest that by destroying property.

This just reminds me of how some 18-22 year olds really aren't entirely in their right minds - or at least aren't part of the time. This is kind of like some of the hangers-on at OWS...they're not thinking through the consequences, they're kind of turned on by the idea that they're DOING something to stick it to the man.

If you're really angered by the regents' decision, here are some ideas:

1. Withdraw and attend a different school.
2. Contact alumni donors and explain your frustration, it might sway them to change their donation (And trust me - large donors pissed off at the regents' actions can cause stuff to happen)
3. Write letters
5. Refuse to support the football program in the future.

BUT: and this is where I part company with those students who are angry at the regents - remember that there were kids harmed in this situation. I know, I know: Joe Paterno has been head coach for longer than I've even been alive. I know, he's an institution on campus. But he screwed up. Yes, maybe he's being made a scapegoat - but there are also administrators leaving under a cloud. There should be consequences. I don't know that his actions necessarily justified firing but I'm amazed he didn't think it right to call the cops then and there, and try to get Sandusky out of the program then.

The more I see of the "industry" of collegiate football, the more I question it. I think it's gone from an entertaining auxiliary that brings in money to the school, to, on some campuses, something that even eclipses the university's real reason for existence - the academics.

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