Categorized | National Sports

The Focus Has Shifted To The Insignificant In The Penn State Scandal

We’ve talked about it all to death, and now look where we’ve ended up. Joe Paterno’s statue. Whether or not Penn State should participate in a bowl game. It doesn’t matter.

Jerry Sandusky was wrong for doing what he did. Joe Paterno was wrong for hiding what Jerry Sandusky did. Mike McQueary was wrong for not doing enough. Spanier, Curley, all of them, wrong.

They all deserved criticism, and they all deserved to be fired. But continue talking about these individuals in great detail along with issues like statues and bowl games doesn’t solve a thing. They aren’t the point (aside from Sandusky himself ) anymore.

None of it prevents anything like this from happening again. The list of individuals we can blame is a hundred miles long, and it surely doesn’t stop with where we’re at. There are plenty of people to hunt down and interview, or for Sports By Brooks to rant and rave about to get attention and page views.

Think of anywhere you’ve worked. Now try to remember an indiscretion by one of your co-workers. Even one by someone who worked there before you. Maybe someone got caught having sex in the break room or arrested for drunk driving. Everyone knew about it. Everyone. From the executives to the secretaries to the interns. It goes from a story to kind of an office legend.

Now think about the Penn State football program. You mean to tell me that these few individuals were the only ones who knew something went on with Jerry Sandusky and didn’t say anything? You mean to tell me that Joe Paterno’s secretary didn’t hear something? Or Spanier’s? Or Curley’s?

Out of the hundreds and hundreds of men who have played football for Penn State since those first incidents in the late 90’s, you mean to tell me that none of those players knew that something went on? Wives, friends, concession workers. They saw Sandusky maybe not every day, but often enough to know who he was, or what he’d done.

The root of the problem isn’t in the individuals and the statue didn’t cover anything up. It’s the culture and the atmosphere that these individuals were a part of that’s the issue. Maybe things like statues matter in some small way to the people who are regularly on that campus, but it would seem that media would be better focused on something more important. Individual punishments, statues, bowl games, who cares? The community failed. Let’s find out why. It may make for fewer, less juicy stories, but we’d be better for it.

Only examining the culture will help us from preventing more harm being done in similar situations. It’s not what the people around Penn State did anymore, it’s why. Fear, greed, pride, you could probably find parts if it in most of the seven deadly sins, but that should be the mission. Find it, and do your best to wipe it out.

It gets like that with a complicated math problem sometimes. When you’ve made a mess of the piece of paper, sometimes you’ve just got to rip it up and start new.

With Penn State, we’ve spent so much time worrying about the details that we’ve forgotten what the problem was in the first place. Let’s rip up the paper.

  • Mary

    Dude!!! Omg- I have to c&p something on for you… Last week I tried to explain this SAME thing on a post where people were acting SO stupid… Let me see if I can find it

  • kyle koneski

    It’s all getting out of hand. Keep the Joe Pa statue, and let it all hang out. What’s done is done. Sandusky is a pedophile. McQuery should’ve done more, along with Joe Pa. Everyone acts like Joe Pa did it and so did McQuery. Shady stuff, but who cares, we know the facts. Joe Pa deserves to get fired because of it, not for covering it up, but for PR. They were all wrong, but Joe Pa’s statue should be up for one reason, he WAS Penn State football.

  • Mary D. Burns-Stefanko

    Ha! found it. Took out other peopoles names and replaced with “–” for privacy. Unfortunately I think the point I was trying to make was sorely missed by peoples inability to see beyond their rage and riteousness. The point is, like you are stating above, that in the “right culture”, an initial act cannot be prevented, but no further acts would have occured past the first. To prevent this sort of problem from happening again, the moral, ethical culture of the school/football system must be addressed and corrected. It is a very difficult thing to change culture though mass directive. People have to choose to “do the right thing”. It has to start with one person and snowball. Kind of like the old “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch”, you can thow in a good apple for the opposite- but that apple needs to be a pretty big apple that everyone can see. You have to teach it and talk about it and most importantly, provide pathways for open communication… you have to make it your…. Culture! Who knew??? Apparently only a handful of us…. Here it is, I just have to share it with you guys!!!

    Original Comment From my friend:

    Poor Joe Paterno? I am so disgusted with this! He and Penn State did NOTHING when they found out that Sandusky was molesting children. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the games they won. These children who were abused are forever damaged. What about the sympathy and outrage on their behalf? 20 children! I’m sick.

    November 9 at 5:07pm via mobile • .5 people like this..

    — and there still going to let him coach, Makes me sick to my stomach
    — Oh wow and they still let Michael Vick toss a ball. Can’t disappoint football fans! F@#$ ’em. People are so forgiving when it comes to sports because, well… idk. Sports are just so damn important!!! Especially winning! Go team go! Pardon me while I vomit into the nearest receptacle.

    Mary D. Burns-Stefanko I bet if one of his team had come to him and said it was being done to him this would have been a very different story. It wouldn’t have been a “one & done” attempt then.

    — I don’t see how it’s even a debate! It’s disgusting and very disturbing!

    Mary D. Burns-Stefanko The problem is that God has fallen to second place in their lives and they have filled his throne with “the game”. They are making decisions in the holy name of football and not the name of God. (whatever that God might be). They have, by misplacing their morals and values, rationalized themselves into the current situation. It is a cultural problem in the organization…

    — Actually, priests and the Vatican condone kiddie fucking too, which means God is actually okay with it. I’m for moving away from god and football, as a nation.

    Mary D. Burns-Stefanko Priests and the Vatican (which much like Penn State is an institution itself and seeks its own best interest) are Roman Catholic-specific… I was referring to a persons God, any persons God, as said above, “whoever that God may be”. Some just like to say “higher power”… Point being, they have ranked football/sports at the top of their ethical pyramid, likened football to their personal God, thereby putting all other morality, values, decencies and ethics at the mercy of the game… Nothing to do w Catholicism at all… Believe me… I’m a psu student and a survivor of 10yrs of catholic school and a mother and I am indifferent to football… But I did teach business ethics and it’s very easy for me to see how this atrocity happened as well as how it could have been prevented (had the correct culture been intact in the first place…) the short that we all seem to agree on here is that it’s all just despicable. Just inexcusable and unforgivable.

    –What correct culture….one with no people….it’s about power and being powerless…culture doesn’t have anything to do with it.

    Mary D. Burns-Stefanko Yes, it really does… Especially in such a blatantly obvious case of right/wrong moral behavior. If you are not familiar with the full def of culture, I have included it below.
    Every institution has a culture, be it a corporation, an institute of learning or a church in any form. If the culture in an organization/institution/group is of shared values like respect and integrity and personal responsibility to up hold these values instead of a culture of lacking ethics, of sports-first mentality and of patriarchal protection then this would never have been acceptable and would have been ended at that very first report back in 1998 or 1999.
    Its the same exact issue that led to Ford and exploding Pintos, Chinese toys with lead paint, again Ford & tires, Enron&World Com… and ultimately, world atrocities… Its called people knew and didnt say/do anything/enough. That is a culture failure. The culture was shut up and look the other way, cover it up. All of those above are what eventually led to the enactment of the Whistleblower Protection Act.

    Btw… #2&5, below…Merriam-Webster, Culture, noun:

    Main Entry: 1cul•ture
    Pronunciation: ˈkəl-chər
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, cultivated land, cultivation, from Anglo-French, from Latin cultura, from cultus, past participle
    Date: 15th century
    1 : cultivation, tillage
    2 : the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
    3 : expert care and training
    4 a : enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training b : acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills
    5 a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic
    6 : the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media; also : a product of such cultivation

    Mary D. Burns-Stefanko And power/powerless DOES have something to do with it, of course- the perpetrator and the victim. Not the institution in which the horror took place, which is what I am talking about.

  • Benjamin Horine

    Thanks Spike! The night I heard that they fired Jo Pa I said the same thing, though not quite as eloquently as you put it here. Love the analogy of ripping up the paper. Well said.

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