Monday, July 23, 2012

What July 23rd Means To Me: Penn State Football and Penalties

OK, let's just get this out of the way:  I think we're all in agreement that the findings in the Penn State scandal are horrible.  Everyone involved (dead or alive) should be levied strict penalties, should lose their jobs and/or go to jail, all that.  Just dream up the worst shit imaginable, and give them the worst shit imaginable.

But I don't know what this has to do with competition and football. 

This morning, the NCAA announced penalties against the Penn State program that involve hefty fines, but also losses in football scholarships, bowl games, and a series of retroactive forfeits (which I always found absurd because you can't erase people's memories, but that's another discussion.), and some were even calling for the "death penalty" of the program.  Generally, these sorts of punishments are doled out when a school skirts rules for a competitive advantage, but even though the events at Penn State were atrocious (and involved people from the football program),  they were still actions of a few, dishonorable men.  I'm not sure what punishing a bunch of student athletes and fans, who had zero knowledge of this incident, actually does.  I suppose one could make the argument that "football culture" is what lead to this cover up, but I think that's a difficult connection to actually make and more of an excuse.

The game of football had nothing to do with this.  Penn State football as a general institution had nothing to do with this.  The people running the program did. It was a criminal act and the authorities will deal with it properly  So purge, knock down the entire stadium and rebuild it if you must, but I will continue to question why losing scholarships and bowl games is the proper punishment. In fact, a completely new and clean Penn State football program may just be the thing the school could use to rebuild it. 

Though I'm willing to be convinced I'm wrong!


  1. I think you're wrong! :)

    Look at it this way: when a priest rapes a kid, that has nothing to do with Catholicism. That priest is just some sicko who has taken advantage of a system/org to exploit children. But when several people in that org know about it or cover it up, or worse yet use the org as a way to further brutalize children, the org is at fault.

    school bullying is sort of the same way. obviously the bullies are at fault, but a school which turns a blind eye or allows such continuous brutalization to happen is at fault.

    realistically I agree with you that it does little to actually punish the penn state record, but the reactions by penn state fans has kind of pointed out to me how institutionally acceptable it was. A great majority of them are all about how snitching is terrible and joe paterno did the right thing. If the institution you are running supports those values, then it should be punished to assure nothing like that happens again.

  2. My opinion, you're wrong, the game of football had everything to do with this. The problem is at the end of the day football became more important than anything else. Including the well being of many children. The cover-up was to avoid disgracing the program. The magnitude of the punishment is an attempt to reverse that course at an institution that went out of control. It is downright disturbing how much power Paterno, a football coach, wielded over a state institution with 30,000 students! And how he was revered as a god by almost anyone who lived in Pennsylvania. When the allegations first hit light, everyone was quick to exonerate Paterno, either by claiming he was "a senile old man and just a figurehead" in recent years, or with his half-hearted attempt to bring the crimes to light by merely alerting his superiors and not following up. It was a culture of undeserved reverence created for what is supposed to be a small slice of a large academic institution, and that allowed these crimes to take place for many years.

    And the comparison to the Catholic priests isn't far off - the Church and local diocese were sued up the ying-yang, so in that case the institution had to pay for the wrongs of but a few members, and all Catholics have to carry the burden of their faith being disgraced. Were the Catholic Church not the global behemoth nation-state it is, and instead was, say, a local institution, you can bet the penalties by an enforcing authority would have been far more severe than just lawsuits.

  3. And don't be silly and think it was just a small handful of people running the program. It's come out that it was a poorly kept secret amongst anyone associated with the program, players, coaches, what have you. One of the top defensive coaches in the nation randomly retires at a young age? And it was known he had aspirations of being a HC, but yet no big time program would touch him?

  4. Yes, I never disagreed with that, but there's a difference between people running the show and the show itself. In this case, football here is the innocent victim (and its being scapegoated), and as far as them "protecting the program," that's like blaming the violence in a Batman movie for what happened in Colorado. Essentially, the program didn't force their hand, football is an inaniatimate thing.

    If you want to purge the entire program of its rot, I'm ok with it. It's a criminal case and many should be thrown in jail over it. That's where the attention should be focused. I'm not sure what vacating wins (tardo), taking away scholarships and bowl games really does but hurts recruits who had nothing to do with it. Not to mention a fan base that just likes to watch football.

    I completely see your point, I just dont necessarily agree with it (though this thought came more from the original debate of whether or not Penn States football program should be killed entirely).

    Also, the catholic church isn't a direct comparison, because last i checked, a catholic could still walk into any church and practice their faith. Lawsuits aside, it has nothing to do with the religion itself.