Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random thoughts about the Penn State scandal

In the fall of 1983 and while hanging out at my fraternity house -- I wasn't in school at the time -- I became somewhat friendly with a Pitt sophomore woman who started visiting us regularly. She and I even went out a couple of times, and eventually she decided to pledge our "little sister" program. Keep in mind that I had a deserved reputation there of not just being a straight-edge but standing up for moral values.

One night I saw her in the room of one of my brothers who had a reputation of being a lech and saw a look on her face that, perhaps, she didn't want something to happen. This time, however, I think I panicked and ended up doing nothing, and I'm not sure why. Bottom line, she never came back after the next year, and I never saw her again.

I never did find out what happened that night and am not sure if I ever want to know, but in that instant I betrayed my highest principles.

In one sense I can thus identify with Mike McQueary, the former Penn State quarterback who, as a graduate assistant in 2002, witnessed now-retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a boy in the shower but never went to the police -- an inaction which eventually cost head coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier their jobs, with athletic director Tim Curley stepping down because Sandusky had been engaging in that kind of behavior since the mid-1990s, according to some sources.

Was McQueary motivated by fear of unpopularity, not being taken seriously or the potential loss of his job? We may soon find out.

-- Many folks have complained for years that Paterno, who will be 85 next month, had been a coach at Penn State since 1950 and got the top job in 1966, had been there for too long. In 2004 he was asked to step down but responded, essentially, "Get lost" -- the team was still winning and graduating players, so he still had all the leverage.

I never took such longevity seriously until last week because it seemed that Paterno may have been bigger than the program -- and that was a real problem because things could be, and in this case certainly were, swept under the rug.

Contrast this with its former chief rival Pitt, which in Paterno's tenure as head coach has had, by my count, 12 head coaches. Last year after pushing out Dave Wannstedt the administration hired Michael Haygood, formerly with Miami University; however, after two weeks he was let go the day after he was busted on domestic-abuse charges. Paterno had not wanted to play Pitt because he couldn't get Penn State into the Big East Conference, whose main sport then was basketball, while admitting Pitt. That may change now.

-- The Sandusky scandal will hurt Penn State in another way that isn't yet obvious to most: With African-Americans. The main campus has always had a reputation, deserved or not, of being inhospitable to people of color; minority enrollment was the lowest of just about any school I looked at in the late 1970s, and it has always had trouble fielding a consistently competitive men's basketball team.

You see, Sandusky founded the "Second Mile Foundation," which helped underprivileged kids in that area and through which he found his victims, and it turns out that one boy who stepped forward was black. (It's suspected, but not yet proven, that other of the boys he abused were also African-American. Why? Because they were often fatherless and thus emotionally vulnerable.)

-- On Facebook one person blamed "liberals" for the fact that such a scandal could take place, quoting a militant gay group's alleged motto "Sex at eight before it's too late!" Here's the problem: Pedophilia is about power, not really sex, and has gone on for thousands of years (with the Roman Catholic Church especially suffering a black eye for the behavior of a number of priests).

1 comment:

Mark said...

Hi Rick ,You made several deep statements of truth.One of our local writers said the whole thing has nothing to do with sports.But, what are today's sports? They are civilized community family competitions that took the place of violent celebrations of barbaric celebrations of war. Football was originally called "Kicking the Dane's Head", A game played by Vikings after battle with an actual Danish man or Celt's head. The loss of civility and empathy for their fellow citzens who were victimized is an aweful symptom of where Amereica is.The rioting students are equally guilty. Paterno knew this was coming and sold his house to his wife for one dollar. And the Rioting students gave their endorsement to the crimes and cover-ups by their actions.NAMBLO's motto is " IF you're 8 it's too late" and just as at the start of the Gay Rights movement; there is a move to have Pedophilia removed from the list of mental disorders. the next step will be Pedophile's rights. now, let's take this another direction for the Christian readers. If I claim to be a friend to my friends; and know there is a Hell and Heaven, and Jesus the Savior is God. IF I remain silent, if I don't reply to their comments, if I don't want to appear a Bible Thumping Religious Freak who's uncool; I am no friend, I am a severe offender.And in eternity that friend may say of you, " Wish You were here!"