Let there be no question: Penn State athletics covered up one of the most heinous crimes that could possibly be committed.
That is in no way an understatement.
Convicted child predator Jerry Sandusky has tarnished Penn State football forever. There's no way to neglect a discussion of the events that have unfolded over the past 14 years when watching PSU take the field.
That is not fair to the young men who suit up for that football team, but that’s just the way it is.
The retroactive decision to remove wins from a program is odd, but that is a separate story. The fact is that the program must take the hit and repercussions will affect their football players for years to come. But that pales in comparison to the impact that Sandusky’s actions had on his victims and their families.
Have people forgotten that we are talking about a game here and trying to compare it to a child’s life?
I am more than glad that the NCAA handed down a punishment some call worse than the death penalty and others call not tough enough. Perhaps banning Penn State football for at least a year would have been the right decision, but there is no perfect punishment. I’m not going to argue the finer points of administering a punishment worthy of its crime.
The ultimate punishment is in the consciences of those who covered up the crimes and the permanent damage the crimes have done to a seemingly “legendary” coach and his football program.
He is legendary now, that’s for sure.
Now let me take the position of a college student. As a proud member of a premier public institution, University of California, Berkeley, I take pride in the rich history of my school’s athletics. California has produced elite professional athletes (Jason Kidd, Tony Gonzalez, Jeff Kent, among others) and is famous for games like this, even though the major sports teams haven’t had elite success over the past couple years.
But there is no question in my mind that if it was found that something as horrendous as Sandusky’s crimes occurred on my campus, I would firmly stand against that individual or group of individuals who either took part actively or secondarily in such actions.
I would detach myself as much as possible from someone like Sandusky and hope my university and student body would do the same.
Is there not something wrong (and disgustingly ironic) with students posing with Paterno’s statue, gently putting roses at his feet?
The man helped Sandusky continue his criminal activity for more than a decade.
There are few (if any) other situations where someone could knowingly get away with these acts over this period of time.
So why would I, as a college student, want to be known for supporting him?
As great as he was on the field, he allowed these things to transpire off the field and has no excuse.
Let me borrow a (somewhat pathetic) analogy from my hometown baseball team. Barry Bonds, of the San Francisco Giants, had one of the most illustrious careers in history on the diamond.
But common sense should be enough to prove that he has used steroids.
You can slice it up any way you want—as many people have done and will continue to do—but I stand firm that he does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
Maybe I’m an idealist, but the icon I grew up watching isn’t the shining star he once was to me as a wide-eyed elementary school kid.
I probably put my eggs in the wrong basket, idolizing a sports hero as much as I did, but the steroid era helped put me back in my place. Thankfully, I learned that lesson as a child.
And Bonds didn't commit a crime against other human beings.
What outrages me second only to the crimes committed is that the events that occurred under the eye of Penn State have put coaches across the country under unreasonable suspicion. One-on-one interactions between coach and athlete will be under a microscope that is unfair to the vast majority of well-intentioned human beings.
Coaching is one of the most admirable and important things someone can commit to. Men and women, from your average Little League coach to NCAA coaching legend Pat Summit, teach lessons far beyond the scope of skills on an athletic arena.
Do people really think sports are important enough to neglect the crimes committed against children?
And how painfully ironic it is that this transpired under the watch of an institute of higher learning?