Unless you’ve been heavily sedated for the past eight months you’ve probably already arrived to the conclusion of outrage in regards to the Penn State child molestation scandal, but to the unbelievably indifferent few of you, today offered one more opportunity to gather your bearings and charter your vessel for saner, calmer waters.
As 3,000 students rallied in front of the Lasch Football Building, the symbolic hell on earth for the eight acknowledged victims (and likely dozens more) of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, once again, a misguided community showed their undying allegiance to a program whose leaders actively concealed information that could have led directly to the end of Jerry Sandusky’s heinous crimes.
They rallied to show their support for the players – the same players who have been afforded the right to distance themselves from a toxic community and receive a scholarship to play football and receive an education at any school willing to take them free of penalty. In reality, 3,000 people gathered in an effort to influence the decisions of those players; to try to cling on to the only thing that’s ever truly mattered… football.
I’ve got news for you, Happy Valley: It’s not about the players.
The NCAA penalties imposed against the Penn State football programs isn’t an absurdly misappropriated punishment that somehow falls unjustly on the shoulders of past and present Nittany Lions. Vacated wins won’t take away the memories from a guy like Adam Taliaferro – a man who was paralyzed during a game in 2000 and fought his way back onto his feet before walking back, against all odds, into Beaver Stadium – no matter how much outrage he feigned.
The vacated wins were a direct shot at Paterno, and were done in an effort to vanquish Paterno from atop college football’s most prestigious list.
Similarly, the postseason ban and revoked scholarships aren’t effecting players either. Players will be given similar opportunities elsewhere to play competitive football and obtain valuable degrees from respected universities. Those penalties were a shot at the pocketbook of the school and its administrators, the ones who have profited greatly from the expansive power of the football program – power we found out was wildly abused.
It’s not about the players, and, as a matter of fact, it’s no longer about Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, or Gary Schultz either. They’re all ultimately responsible for what has taken place, but they’ve all either come to reckoning, or will eventually face their day in court. Paterno is dead, and Sandusky will spend his lifetime in a jail cell if he’s lucky and will possibly find himself with a needle full of death juice in his arm compliments of the State of Texas after violating federal law when he transported a victim over state lines for sexual purposes at the 1998 Alamo Bowl.
The other three administrators directly named as knowing conspirators in former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report have all knowingly perjured themselves in front of a grand jury and will likely face serious consequence. It’s no longer about any of them.
It’s about you now, Happy Valley.
For eight months, a judicious and diligent process has slowly unfolded before your eyes, affording you countless opportunities to put aside your doughy-eyed affection for Penn State football and walk willingly to the desirable side of right and wrong. Instead, as evidenced by today’s protests and countless other unfathomable and woefully ignorant displays of support, you’ve continued to acknowledge that football is the rabid dog that you simply refuse to put down.
It’s as if, blinded by loyalty, you’ve taken every last shred of human decency within your community and woven it into a piece of cloth, then taken that piece of cloth and jammed it into a bottle of gasoline to make a Molotov cocktail that burned every resemblance of common sense to the ground.
Obviously, not every single one of you has turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of your state’s flagship university. However, in a way, those of you that understand the difference between what is right and what is wrong but have allowed the self-aggrandizing to continue are equally fallible.
This is much bigger than a football program and it’s time for you all to accept that and move forward, so that something like this never happens again.
It’s about you now. After all, YOU are, Penn State.