Make no bones about it, Joe must go!

It’s not a question of due process, in light of recent grand jury findings in regards to the alleged actions of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, it’s time for an administrative overhaul on the campus of Penn State University. Call it a fire sale, call it a house cleaning, or call it whatever you’d like, but everyone associated with what amounts to the most humanly irresponsible act in the history of collegiate athletics must go.

By now you know the story, so we can spare each other the disturbingly sordid details of Sandusky’s alleged transgressions. At the end of the day, Sandusky will get his day in court, but Joe Paterno and everyone else involved in the mishandling of this situation should be on the chopping block immediately.

You may think it’s unfair that Sandusky should be afforded the luxury of a trial, but that is his right by law. Unfortunately for Paterno and everyone else who were made aware of the simple possibility of wrongdoing by Sandusky, they do not and should not be afforded that luxury. Their responsibility as people were to report the accusations to the proper authorities, regardless of whether or not they deemed them valid.

Paterno and the Penn State administration’s failure to do exactly that when they were made aware of Sandusky’s allegedly lewd contact was a failure as a state employee, but more importantly a failure as human beings.

We’re not talking about a customer service complaint, and this isn’t something that you move up the chain of command so that you can avoid concerning yourself with it. This is the potential safety of a child you are talking about. Penn State failed the citizens of their state, they failed their students, they’ve failed their employees, but most importantly they’ve failed any young person whose lives were affected by this.

What Sandusky did, if true is the act of an absolutely despicable individual, and one that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. What Paterno and everyone else who were privy to what graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw (including McQueary) might not have been as overtly heinous, but it should not be forgotten.

Simply put, Joe must go, and this should be a lesson to everyone that we owe it to ourselves and to our children to protect them from things like this.

 

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Has our concept of “toughness” become detrimental to team sports?

The thought that men are supposed to be tough is an ideal that goes back through the annals of history, and it’s an idea that is amplified by an innumerable amount in the world of sports. If you’re hurt, play through it. That’s the “tough” thing to do.

The general consensus is that pain is temporary; therefore, it’s in the best interest of the team for a player to put their head down and play with no regard for their body whatsoever, but maybe it’s time to re-examine that philosophy.

The idea is something that nearly every athlete has had instilled in them by the simple predispositions of previous generations. In my not-so-illustrious days as a prep athlete, I played through injury because that was the tough thing to do, but I’m not so sure that it was the best thing to do. Looking back on it, I am not concerned with the fact that I could have seriously injured myself. I’m concerned with the idea that I potentially hurt my team by playing when I shouldn’t have.

Today, Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox got roughed up in an outing against the Minnesota Twins and in the post-game interview he played off his struggles as caused by one of his many injury problems. He’s a “warrior” and a “competitor,” so in his mind, it is in the best interest of his team to continue on. But is it really?

In team sports, especially at their highest levels, the concept of being a team player means that you have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. This preconceived notion that playing through an injury is the courageous thing to do is a direct contradiction to the actual concept of playing for the team.

The truly courageous thing to do would be to gracefully concede the fact that their simply might be better options than one’s self.

The problem is that we’ve seen certain instances where legendary performances have taken place when an athlete has miraculously overcome an injury to play at an unusually high level. That glorious gladiator mentality is so ingratiated in our brain that it makes it that much more difficult for us to truly gauge when an athlete should and shouldn’t push the envelope.

Don’t get me wrong, there are instances when an elite athlete at 75% is a better option than his potential replacement, but more often than not, that’s simply not the case. That’s why it’s time for us to re-evaluate our stance on the issue of true “toughness.”

Unfortunately, the difficulty lies in the fact that it’s so difficult to tangibly measure “hurt.” How hurt is too hurt?

I’m not advocating the sissification of society. The idea is related to the seriousness of the injury. I’m not asking for people to sit out of the big game because they have a paper cut, but I am asking that we take a step back and truly reconsider the mentality we’ve accepted as a society.

It’s not feasible to pretend like it’s as simple as flipping a switch, especially when you consider that our current ideology on toughness is practically tattooed on the face of our society. However, we CAN start the process of changing our collective thought process.

It might be in the best interest of the team.

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All the “Wright” Stuff

It’s funny how the world turns. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I realized that my chances of becoming a professional athlete were about as small as my 5’11” 155 LB frame. Writing is something that I’ve always figured myself to be pretty good at, but there are times in everybody’s lives when you simply doubt your capabilities.

For a football player, it might be when they see a Walter Payton highlight reel. For a musician, it might be when they hear a Frank Sinatra vinyl. For someone who wants to be a writer, I’d have to say it happens every time you read one of those timeless pieces from the past or present.

Last night I was up until well after 3 A.M. It’s a fairly typical occurrence in my household, but more often than not it has something to do with a project I’m working on or something I’m watching. Last night it all started with a Wright Thompson article from a couple of years ago titled, “Shadow Boxing.”

I’d read this article before, and I was just as amazed by Thompson’s ability to immerse you in the story when I first read it as I am now. However, now, at a time when I have started to take writing more seriously, it seems to have greater meaning.

After losing myself in the saga of “Sweet Jimmy,” a man who once tangoed with Muhammad Ali and seemingly vanished without a trace, I dove head first into nearly every Wright Thompson piece my browser could get its hands on. As a sports fan, Thompson’s ability to take a sports story and make you completely forget about the game and fully intertwine you with the underlying fabric of the moment is second to none.

After reading a few more of Thompson’s articles, my mood changed from complete and total awe, to slightly perturbed. It wasn’t because I was tired and it certainly wasn’t because of the quality of the content. It was because I realized that it was one of those aforementioned moments when you doubt your capabilities.

For me, it doesn’t matter whether or not I work at the plant down the road from my house for the rest of my life or if I actually find a way to make something out of writing, because I can assure you that, either way, I will write until the day God closes the curtains on this show they call life. I know for a fact that at least one person enjoys my writing, and that’s me, and that makes me a writer, even if it’s only in the simplest sense of the word.

So as I read Wright Thompson’s work during the wee hours, as a writer, I had to question myself. Will I ever be this good?

Writing about a 3-4 defense or telling people why I think the Chicago White Sox should trade so-and-so is easy, but to be able to take something as rudimentary as a game and relate it to life is a talent so few have ever been blessed with.

However, as I began to sulk over the fact that I had become smitten with Thompson’s work and could likely never captivate an audience as he had with me, I had a revelation. The great thing about writing is its relativity. As infatuated as I am with Wright Thompson’s work, there is undoubtedly someone out there equally as appalled by it. Just like there are still people who will disregard “The Great Gatsby,” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” as classics, despite the fact that the majority of people who have read either would strongly disagree.

As I write this, I’m not sure that it fits the bill for the Tennessee Volunteers website I write for (www.knoxvegasvols.com) or the Chicago White Sox website I edit (www.letstalkwhitesox.com.) Hell, to be honest with you I’m not sure if it will ever be published at all, but I felt the need to scribe one of these meaningless personal epiphanies anyways.

I will say as a disclaimer to anybody out there who ever reads this and hasn’t read my work before; I promise I’m not usually so sappy. This went from being one of my typical late night musings and wound up being a personal revelation. Typically I try to toe the line between informative and satirical, but occasionally I manage to get a little wordy and overly idealistic (like now.)

At this point I’m not sure if this piece is good, bad, or if it’s my own personal version of Jerry Maguire’s mission statement, destined to bury me, but in the end time will tell.

But, I suppose that’s true of everything.

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