While we don’t generally cover college football, the fictional sports blogger unions we belong to and our search engine optimization consultants insisted that we write a post with Razzball’s thoughts on the investigation of Penn State led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.  Here it goes…

  • So Penn State now joins the Catholic Church in hypocritical non-profit organizations whose leadership felt protecting their organization’s reputation is worth any sacrifice.  I understand that part of being a  leader is having to make tough, unethical decisions.  I’m sure any ex-President can rattle off a handful of their most painful decisions that would make most of us queasy.  I’m sure every CEO has made decisions for the betterment of stockholders that most of us wouldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) make.  But child abuse?  On the list of abhorrent acts to cover up, that has to be top 3, right?  I say it is.  These are my top three:  1) Murder of an innocent person, 2) Child Abuse, 3) Adult torture/sexual abuse.  (I don’t condone murder but the murder of someone guilty of a crime is gray enough to fall out of medal contention).  It’s a sad fact but large organizations are like any large organism – breeding grounds for bacteria unless habitually disinfected.
  • I might be in the minority here but calls for the ‘death penalty’ to the Penn State program seems ill-advised.  I think those should be reserved mainly for player misconduct which would include recruitment violations.  This is an ethical lapse (a monstrous one) by their leadership.  Is Arkansas going to face sanctions b/c their ex-coach cheated on his wife and lied to the police about it?  What does a severe NCAA punishment accomplish?  Are there going to be future programs that will look at this s***show and think covering up pedophilia is the right move but then change course because it could lead to a reduction in scholarships and bowl eligibility?  The VAST VAST majority of players, alumni, and fans associated with Penn State football would have acted appropriately and are gutted by what happened.  The damage that’s been done to Penn State’s reputation and is going to be done to Penn State football in terms of future recruitment (they may as well not even try recruiting outside of Pennsylvania for the next 5+ years) will be way worse than what the NCAA can impose.  I don’t know if they have the power to impose this but i’d love to see it that a percentage of all Penn State football revenue goes to a fund that pays victims both at the hands of Sandusky and to child abuse victims in general.  That much better than some arbitrary docking of scholarships.  The only vindication in this whole sordid affair is for the Friday Night Lights producers who are now responsible for only the second worst plot twist in football history.  (Admit it, Season 2 would’ve been even worse if they somehow involved Coach Taylor in something like this…)
  • JoePa sought and negotiated a $3 million golden parachute in January 2011 while the investigation was taking place.  Well, there goes the “Maybe JoePa wasn’t mentally there” defense.  This money can’t be paid out to his family now, can it?  Doesn’t it have to be either kept in Penn State’s coffers or donated somewhere?  Part of this retirement package was a free luxury box at Beaver Stadium for the next 25 years.  So when do you think is the first game that a Paterno actually uses the luxury box?  If it’s soon, I’m not sure the luxury box is big enough to fit the mighty set of balls that action would take.
  • The most absurd part of the ‘Should they or should they not take down the Joe Paterno statue?”:  Next to the statue it says ‘Educator, Coach, Humanitarian“.  HUMANITARIAN!  While there’s no doubt he’s done work that could be described as ‘humanitarian’, is there any doubt that covering up (and enabling future) child abuse disqualifies someone as a humanitarian?  If inhumanitarian was a word, it would be apt for JoePa’s role in this cover-up.  Descriptors like ‘sane’, ‘athlete’, ‘beauty’, etc. are allowed to stay on someone’s obituary even if those qualities deteriorate with age.  But humanitarian?  There’s not a lot of leeway there – even if you’re old.  Maybe you can cheat at bingo occasionally or steal someone’s tapioca but that’s the extent of it.  Here is a compromise – the statue should stay but replace ‘Humanitarian’ with ‘Enabler of Child Abuse’.
  • Does the fact that I picture inhumane retribution for the Penn State leadership involved in the cover-up (President Graham Spanier, Vice President of Finance and Business Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley) disqualify me as a humanitarian?  My retribution du jour:  Go Clockwork Orange and make them watch NAMBLA-produced movies to a Michael Jackson soundtrack.  (A different punishment would of course be required for Sandusky.)
  • The Associated Press broke news that Penn State plans to renovate areas where boys abused.  Nice thought, Penn State.  But, really, haven’t their rectums been through enough?  (How does that title get past the AP’s editors?  Perhaps they should employ a comedian.)

  1. tenaciousdeucer says:
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    Rudy,
    I agree with most of your opinions, with the exception of the death penalty rationalization. This is not equivalent to any kind of ethical failing outside of the football program. The actions / inactions of these cowards were performed in their roles as PSU leadership in order to maintain recruitment and cash flow. If Paterno had covered child abuse at his church as a member of the church, he would still be ethically reprehensible but there would be no punishment to PSU. This incident is all about PSU, football, and money over children, and deserves the harshest penalty possible.

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @tenaciousdeucer, I understand your point. To me, punishment should aim to focus on the guilty as well as deter future guilty participants. When the misconduct includes players and/or effects the validity of games (such as coaches cheating), I think that penalizing a program is the correct course of action. In this case, the guilty participants are going to be punished severely. They’ve lose their livelihood and are at risk at losing their freedom (via criminal prosecution) and savings (via civil prosecution). I can’t imagine a greater deterrent. Any penalties to the program, in my eyes, will punish the innocent. And I can’t see how further penalties will act as a greater deterrent.

      It’s certainly possible that the NCAA judges this falls under ‘lack of institutional control’ or whatever they call it. I’m not going to lose much sleep over any penalties assessed to the program. I just don’t think it fits my sense of just punishment.

  2. trevor says:
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    “I’m sure any ex-President can rattle off a handful of their most painful decisions that would make most of us queasy”

    I quote Woodrow Wilson to show that presidents really do not make decisions.

    “Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @trevor, sounds like woodrow wilson would’ve loved Dan Browns’ novels.

  3. Carnac says:
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    Very nice, cogent piece.

    “The only vindication in this whole sordid affair is for the Friday Night Lights producers who are now responsible for only the second worst plot twist in football history.”

    It was a strike-shortened season. Given 7 more episodes, they could have really run away with the title.

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @Carnac, Ha. I think it’s more likely Season 2 would’ve been better if they had a full season of episodes. But it was still a bad twist.

  4. Steve says:
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    Nice piece, Rudy. I think I agree with you on the ‘death penalty’ thing, but then I also find myself agreeing with Buzz over here:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/13/buzz-bissinger-ban-penn-state-football.html

    I guess it just feels like the football program should be punished *somehow*

    As an aside, the article linked to in Buzz piece:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-college-sports/8643/

    is a sensational read.

    Maybe as a bit of an outsider, it’s a bit more in relief for me, (and don’t get me wrong – I love big-time sports and the BCS Championship game was on TV here in New Zealand, and I watched it) but I find the gap between the imagined importance of college football and its ACTUAL place in the general scheme of things to staggeringly big.

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @Steve, Thanks for the links – liked the buzz read, really liked the Atlantic piece. I agree with the sentiment that the ‘too big to fail’ culture around college football programs can be toxic. A death penalty for PSU isn’t going to change that. It’s easy for Buzz or someone like Jason Whitlock to get on their soapbox and claim the system should be dismantled. It’s not happening. Too much money. Too many people love college football. And the biggest issue w/ US colleges is not the skewed perspective on sports vs. academics – it’s the ridiculous inflation in tuition. That money is fueling all types of pork barrel expenses (it’s not like professors are overpaid) at the expense of both those that miss out on an education (because of cost) or those who go into great debt to pay it. When the inflationary tuition bubble breaks, it’s going to get ugly at many colleges. I’d rather focus on fixing that vs. college sports…(FWIW, if it was up to me, I’d give football players stipends while in college (enough to call bullshit on any “they don’t have money to buy movie tickets” excuses) and put in escrot any money made from merchandise with their likeness.)

    • Jon Kuniholm says:
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      @Steve, I think that the appropriate punishment from the NCAA, since the decisions at PSU were clearly motivated by the desire to protect revenues, would be to tie the punishment to these revenues. While avoiding the so-called “death penalty” that would punish competing teams and innocent players, a plan to direct all revenues to a victims fund would send a clear message about where the NCAA’s priorities (should) lie: with the kids. In this way, the very revenues that the figures in this scandal chose to protect over the kids’ interest would be taken from the university for failing to properly prioritize. The fans could still watch, the players play, and the opponents maintain their schedules, but the cash cow that Paterno and Co. were so desperate to protect would go to those whose importance should have been primary in the first place.

  5. trevor says:
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    No Woodrow WIlson would probably have loved Eustace Mullin’s “Curse of Canaan” or maybe A Ralph Epperson’s “THe Unseen Hand”. he probably wouldnt have had much to say about that fictional brainwashing put forth by Dan Brown

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @trevor, I think Sandusky would also like ‘The Unseen Hand’.

  6. Gip says:
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    The cheap shot at the Catholic Church was totally uncalled for. Why not mention the Boy Scouts,the public school system etc etc.and all the other organizations that currently have abuse problems?

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @Gip, It’s not a cheap shot. Isn’t that the most high profile, pervasive case of child abuse? I’m not as familiar w/ the issues that the Boy Scouts have had. Not sure public school systems are an apt analogy given the revenue disparities (college and church have a lot more money/power). Note that I also wouldn’t abolish the Catholic Church (just like Penn State football) but I hope any priest that covered that child abuse up or committed the abuse PAYS DEARLY.

    • tenaciousdeucer says:
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      @Gip,
      Given the duration and scope of the Catholic abuse scandal, PSU should call it a cheap shot to be compared to them.

      In both cases its not so much the acts of abuse but the systemic cover-ups that call for severe punishment of the organizations.

  7. Gip says:
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    Penn State is now putting in place new policies including those that the Catholic Church adopted a decade ago: background checks for all personnel (more than 2.2 million have already been performed); safe environment training for youth (which more than 4.8 million students have already received). And today there are next to no new cases! The liberal press just likes to regurgitate it all once any abuse case comes to light!
    Read about the recent reports of sexual abuse of children by teachers in southern California public schools and also in the Boy Scouts. Too many American institutions have yet to take this scourge seriously and implement similar policies like the Catholic Church has.

    • Rudy Gamble

      Rudy Gamble says:
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      @Gip, Thanks for sharing with the points on the Catholic Church. It’s unfortunate but sometimes it takes a massive PR disaster to get the right steps instituted.

      Just read some stuff on the SoCal abuse issue – yick.

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