Tag Archive | "Paterno"

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.

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The Week That Sports Were No Longer Our Great Escape

I just got home from taping an episode of Lunch Break with Rhea Hughes over at Comcast Sportsnet. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a generally light-hearted, 5-10 minute sports video about whatever the headlines are for the day. It’s fun, and I enjoy doing it.

When we looked over the rundown for today, it was impossible not to notice that most of what we were going to talk about didn’t really involve actual sports. Of our three big topics, only tonight’s Eagles game had anything to do with a game being played. It was all so … serious. Watch how quickly it turns.

What the hell happened? I was just starting to accept the rock n’ roll part being taken away. Now sports?

When I was in school at Syracuse University, I made a pretty clear decision to take all of the journalism training they gave me and kind of waste it on a career in music and sports. Hard news always seemed so serious. I would listen to those kids talk and just think, “lighten up.” I always figured they’d be the ones talking about the child molestation cases and big business vs. union financial negotiations, while I talked about music and games.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all interesting and should be discussed. As horrifying as the Penn State story is, it’s hard not to find it compelling. As much as the NBA lockout is threatening to destroy my favorite sport, both the financial part of the story and the soap opera part of the story are ever changing. It’s just not what we love about sports. We love sports because they’re our great escape. Now I wish I could escape what’s going on in sports.

In the moment, sports can feel like they mean everything. And in the moment, they do. Even when we argue like mad men about the games we watch, in the back of our minds (sometimes in the WAY back), we know it’s just sports. That’s part of what’s so great.

Shame on everyone involved in the Penn State scandal for their reprehensible behavior. For mixing our great escape up with a story so horrid, it’s hard to read.

Shame on everyone involved in the NBA lockout for choosing to not play ball when so many Americans don’t have jobs. For choosing to not make millions when so many have to survive on pennies.

Hopefully soon we can get back to talking about offenses and defenses, rather than prosecutions and defense attorneys. Maybe we can try talking about MVP’s instead of BRI. And for sports to remind us that life doesn’t always have to be so serious, instead of reminding us of the opposite.



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