The People vs. Penn State: Who Are We Trying to Punish?

J.P. Scott@TheJPScottSenior Analyst IJuly 17, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12: A fan sets up his Penn State flag before the Penn State against Nebraska football game at Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Head football coach Joe Paterno was fired amid allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. Penn State is playing their final home football game against Nebraska.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ladies and gentleman, we have a majority opinion. 

From the internet to television, everyone from friends and co-workers to the talking heads of the media seem to want one thing: the "Death Penalty" for Penn State.

We are a nation who craves blood. We love to see those who deserve to suffer do so. 

We can't watch Jerry Sandusky rot away in a prison cell on a 24/7 live camera feed, so we Americans want the next best thing.

We want to watch Penn State crumble.

There is only one problem with that. Penn State University is not the name of a man who molested kids for decades.

Penn State University is a collection of buildings, classrooms, laboratories, students, faculty, and supporters.

For the most part, that collection of students, faculty, and supporters is ever-changing. Students graduate, faculty move on to other jobs, and supporters are born and pass away every day.

At the center of all that is Penn State University is the football program. In this small town in rural Pennsylvania, Penn State football is what puts this place on the map and gives many people a purpose.

I'm not just talking about the thousands of fans who pack their families in cars and head to state college for a weekend of tailgating and football every other Saturday in the fall.

I'm talking about the students who chose Pennsylvania State University to further their studies in engineering, business, and science, all while knowing that Penn State football would serve as both a backdrop and a centerpiece to what would be a truly rich and unique college experience.

I'm talking about people like the Lucas brothers, who grew up on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean as kids whose parents were employed by the Department of Defense.

Kyle and Tyler Lucas played football at Alconbury High School on RAF Alconbury in the United Kingdom. Alconbury High School has maybe 100 students in grades nine through 12 and is lucky to field a football team of twenty every year.

The team was anything but successful, but that didn't stop the Lucas brothers from putting in long hours in the weight room at the base gym, all in the name of chasing their dream of playing football at Penn State. Not Ohio State. Not Boise State.  PENN STATE.

They can transfer to another school, but they shouldn't have to. This is where they've worked their entire lives to end up. They did nothing wrong.

Anyone who has actually read the Freeh report knows exactly the extent of the Sandusky cover-up and the names of the people involved.

Bill O'Brien, the new Penn State football coach and his staff, are not mentioned in the report. 

Cael Sanderson, the head coach of Penn State's two-time defending national champion wrestling team is not mentioned in the report, nor are any of his wrestlers.

Kyle and Tyler Lucas are not mentioned in the report.

The people mentioned in the report are either in jail, dead, out of a job, or facing investigations that could lead to potential jail-time.

Why is that not enough?

You cannot site past occurrences at other institutions when gauging the severity of what Penn State's punishment should or should not be. This is bigger than a pay-for-play scandal and far different than free tattoos or cars.

This transcends sports and society, and that is a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around.  

Jerry Sandusky stole the livelihood of the young men he violated. 

Penn State's students did not. Penn State's athlete's did not. Penn State's coaches did not. Penn State's professors did not. Penn State's boosters did not.

Jerry Sandusky did.

Why then, are we as a nation clamoring for the NCAA to drop the hammer on Penn State's football team and possibly the entire athletic department?

Why do we want to steal the livelihood of the Penn State community? 

Is it because a couple of football coaches failed to act and some former leaders of the University participated in a cover-up?

Why is nobody marching on the campus, asking for the maintenance department to be shut down due to a couple of janitors who caught Sandusky in the act and said nothing?

Because that won't be loud enough. That won't be bloody enough.

We want to watch Penn State bleed, because that's what we do. We crave it. Someone needs to pay, and since we can't watch Sandusky or Paterno pay, we need to see all the students, all the fans, all the athletes suffer the consequences of one man who committed heinous crimes and a handful of powerful people who then covered them up.

Penn State football will take the field this fall, regardless of what you think. They'll run onto the field with their heads held high, ready to represent a town and a university and help us move on from this horrible ordeal. 

People won't like, but it is going to happen. Those kids and the coaching staff are not Paterno, Sandusky, Spanier, Curley, or Schultz.

They are the Lucas brothers.

They do not deserve to be boycotted, banned, or booed. They did nothing wrong.


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