It’s the worst scandal in the history of sports at any level. And now everybody is scrambling around trying to figure out how to bring some kind of justice to the situation, even though everybody acknowledges that it’s impossible because the damage is done and nothing will change that.
That pursuit of justices now includes denouncing a figure who was not only one of the most prominent people in sports, but also one of the most respected, and that’s why it’s so shocking to see Joe Paterno’s name removed from buildings and scholarships and why Penn State is considering removing his statue from in front of its football stadium, the place Paterno put on the map. His was a sin of omission and in this case that’s unforgiveable.
There is also talk of Penn State canceling its 2012 football season or receiving the “death penalty’’ from the NCAA, which would dismantle the football program for an undetermined amount of time. That’s a drastic step and it’s only happened once before, to Southern Methodist in the 1980s. And that was for various recruiting violations, which, of course, pale next to what happened at Penn State.
First off, everyone agrees, or should agree, that the game of football is insignificant in this tragedy and all the remorse and regret should be directed at the young victims of these heinous crimes. And all the venom should be directed at the predator who started this and the people who did terrible things simply by doing nothing – the Penn State administrators, including Paterno, who covered up and/or ignored Jerry Sandusky’s crimes because they were afraid of what it would do to Penn State’s reputation and the millions of dollars its football program generates every year.
And those are the people who should pay for this, not the innocent people who play for Penn State now or the coaches who work there now and had nothing to do with the cover-up, not to mention all the people who depend on Penn State football for their livelihood, whether it be the people who work in the concession stands at the stadium or the hotel and restaurant owners and many others who rely on those big weekend crowds to make ends meet.
Those innocent people are the ones would be penalized by the death penalty, not the school officials who were responsible for the scandal, because they’ve already been fired and now could be prosecuted in courts of law. That’s why it’s hard to understand why people want the football program shut down, because the program did nothing wrong – it was the people who ran the program and they are the ones who should be punished to the full extent of the law.
In this case, there are other ways to punish the school without punishing the vendors, merchants, players and fans who are guiltless. Let Penn State play football, but all financial proceeds – whether they’re from attendance, television or merchandizing – go to some charity that’s directly involved with fighting child abuse.
That would be as much of a win-win situation as you could get from a situation where there are no winners. It wouldn’t help Sandusky’s young victims cope with what he did to them, because nobody can do that except for God. But at least something good would come out of it and the people who did nothing wrong would not be penalized.
It wouldn’t heal, but it might help.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.