The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

You Can’t Have it Both Ways (Big Ben et al.- Pt. 3)

with 3 comments

I spouted off on these pages in May, 2010 in regard to the damage football routinely incurs on our educational institutions.  It started with the dirty dealings surrounding Ben Roethlisberger and branched off to the myriad ways in which football impacts a school, moreso than even standardized test scores.  I never thought about returning to the short serial, having adequately vented my spleen, but I also never expected the shame of Penn State to explode the way it has in the last week.  Not that anybody did.  Even now, I’m not sure that I can wrap my head around how a man was allowed to act with such impunity and rape boys over the course of two decades (that’s a rough estimate of time–if Jerry Sandusky’s behavior was typical, he probably had been doing it much longer; what we see when things like this leak out is usually only a small part of all that has happened).

I ended Big Ben et al. by talking about impunity, and make no mistake:  Impunity is the right word here.  What other word can be used when a man was caught in flagrante delicto, yet who never had to deal with a significant consequence or even be accountable for himself?  How can someone get away with that?  Simple.  You need only attach yourself to an institution’s most important, most public, most profitable program.  Cling to it like a leach, get some results, and you become untouchable.  And again, this comes back to football.  Jerry Sandusky was cunning enough to exploit his football connections to create a personal pipeline that would deliver already disadvantaged boys to his lap (and again, make no mistake, the demographic for his The Second Mile foundation included at-risk boys who most likely would have little means by which to legally redress Sandusky for assaulting them).

If this situation wasn’t ugly enough, Happy Valley hosted thousands of jackasses Wednesday night who were seemingly okay with the bevy of administrative firings that have resulted (including university president Graham Spanier), but rioted in support of Joe Paterno–whose hands are as dirty as anybody else’s in this depraved depiction of corruption.  Paterno has even said he wishes he had done more when he was made aware of Sandusky’s behavior.  Be real:  You can’t call for the heads of all the bad guys except for the one who has brought you fame and glory.  For chrissakes, look at the price that was paid to win a couple dozen bowl games and a pair of national titles.  Heinous acts were not only committed, but when they were reported, nothing was done about them.  We don’t live in a fascist dictatorship in which those who hold power can do as they please, however skewed the concept of power may be.  Anybody who knew anything about the assaults and failed in their legal and moral obligations must be made to answer for their crimes of apathy, even if one of those persons won 409 football games for your institution.  For thousands of students to riot on Paterno’s behalf is nothing more that a mass display of ignorance, hypocrisy, and delusion that screams “We Care About Nothing But Football.”  Those students brought nothing but shame on their school.  Is this what coaches mean when they exhort their teams to “Just Win, Baby,” or “Win At All Costs?”  Do those phrases translate to “Rape and Pillage With Impunity?”

This is what we can expect when football is placed on a pedestal above academics, above honor and integrity, above justice, and above human decency, when the football coach holds more sway than the university president or district superintendent and they both wink at each other about the ludicrous imbalance of priorities.  This is what we can expect when we deify the addle-minded, judgement-impaired lunkheads who are stupid enough to sacrifice their brains to sate our bloodlust.  What else can we expect when we push them to the top of our social orders, place them above the law, and put them in charge of our most important institutions?

To say this sickens me is textbook understatement.  I’m not even sure I have the words to describe how I feel about Sandusky, Paterno, Penn State administrators, and thousands of Nittany Lions.  This is to say nothing about college football, which I have railed on before on The Seeker.  I hate 95% of it, and that percentage is growing.  Since I can’t find the words, I’ll close with the end of Buzz Bissinger’s November 10 piece “Good Riddance, Joe Paterno” from The Daily Beast:

The entire Penn State coaching staff, too much under the influence of Paterno, should go.

And so, frankly, should major college football and basketball as it exists now, rotten beyond repair, as has been pointed out a thousand times. Totally disconnected from the academic experience, they are insulated kingdoms with their own rules and reigns of terror because of the money they make, trading in illegal recruiting and illegal gifts and illegal favors, and now, thanks to Penn State, alleged sexual abuse of children by a former coach who must have assumed he would always be protected. Just like a Mafia soldier.

Except that the even the Mafia has higher moral standards.

Written by seeker70

November 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This is hands down my favorite entry of yours to date. It is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying about all of this mess. Couldn’t agree with you more. You make me proud. Love you, ole pal

    Lauri Keagle

    November 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  2. What sickens me most is the unwavering support. I was reading the front page of the Trib today and I saw a quote that made my blood boil.
    “The media got Joe Paterno fired,” claimed Crawford, 48, an engineer from Bedford, Pa., and a 1983 Penn State alum. “The media is out of control in this country. They ruined Sarah Palin, and now they’re trying to ruin Paterno. JoePa probably made a poor judgment, but he didn’t cover anything up.”
    Maybe, just maybe, Paterno should have made sure that a man who assaulted a child in his locker room was in jail. This is not about the media, and if this piece of *&(# had a child who was assaulted, then I doubt he’d be spouting this idiocy.–20111113,0,840283.column

    Adam Vollmers

    November 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

  3. While Joe Paterno may been excessively targeted by the media, this doesn’t mean he didn’t do anything wrong. That man is guilty. Not as guilty as Sandusky or those who covered it up, sure. But still guilty. This is a man who has preached “ethics” to his teams since day one. I’m sorry, but if I was told that one of my subordinates was engaging in oral sex with minors, my responsibility doesn’t stop at just reporting it. My responsibility is to make sure it gets investigated and, ultimately, stopped from ever happening again.

    This is not a gray matter. Children were abused for decades because of Paterno’s direct failure to care about anything outside his football program. For that, Paterno deserved to be fired, and he’s lucky not to be indicted.

    Stranger Danger

    November 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: