Thursday, August 2, 2012

Football Culture

Apparently, Penn State's Rise & Rally insulted some folks.  Well, at least one.

Enter Dan Bernstein, CBS Chicago's Senior Columnist.  It starts from the infamous, and obviously infallible Freeh Report:
“One of the most challenging of the tasks confronting the Penn State community is transforming the culture that permitted Sandusky’s behavior,” it said on page 18. “It is up to the entire university community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, the Board, and the administration to undertake a thorough and honest review of its culture.”
From this premise, he concludes:
Now, it seems like they needn’t have bothered, a day after they allowed 3,000 fans to gather at the football office for an organized pep rally. The marching band played, defiant placards waved, Sue Paterno appeared like some kind of deposed queen of the rebel alliance, and Freeh and Emmert were nowhere to be heard.

Wait – they can be seen, though, on the new t-shirt marketed to fans that has their faces next to that of PSU president Rodney Erickson. The back of the shirt says FOREVER 409 – a rejection of Paterno’s wins since 1998 being officially vacated – and the front says “THE FREEH STOOGES.”
Personally, I think the Freeh Stooges is quite ingenious and entertaining.  Far from insulting.  If you don't want to be called a stooge, then stop acting like one.
This was no fleeting little flash-mob, either. It was sponsored by four local businesses and organized by two former players with an internet radio show. Called “Rise and Rally,” it was created to “help a team going through some hardships,” according to a story in the Daily Collegian.

On the organizers’ Twitter page, they referred to “what these guys have had to endure and overcome,” as if they, too, had been somehow victimized.
I'd make him stop, but I cannot.

Now I'm not even going to begin to equate what Sandusky's victims suffered, to what the University, players, professors, students and fans are going through right now, but I am insulted that anyone insists that those in the Penn State community aren't victims.

We are victims of an over-zealous media with questionable goals, the least of which is the well-being of Sandusky's victims.

We are victims of a lack of current leadership.

We are victims of an NCAA that felt compelled to overstep their jurisdiction and impose ridiculous fines and sanctions on a group of coaches, players, and fan base that had nothing to do with Mr. Sandusky's sexcapades.

The widow of a man killed by a drunk driver is a victim.  The wife of Jerry Sandusky is a victim.  Their pain and suffering are different, but our language does not allow for such nuances in the word VICTIM.

But those of us who are suffering and will suffer under these penalties are shamed into silence because we didn't suffer the same anguish that Mr. Sandusky's victims suffered.

I'm sorry.  I didn't know that, in America, your victim status had to be sanctioned by CBS.  Or ESPN.  Or the NCAA.

But what of this FOOTBALL CULTURE of which you speak?  What in bloody blazes does that mean?

The Penn State Football Culture.  Can you get "Gone-to-USC-a" from that?
 Because I donated money to Penn State and went to games, that I sanctioned or condoned Mr. Sandusky's behavior?  I enabled him?  That by some convoluted logic in some parallel but bizarro universe, I am responsible for what happened?

Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black, Mr. Bernstein?

Isn't the media responsible in part (perhaps a large part) for Penn State's level of national recognition?  Likewise for Paterno.  In fact, the attention garnered by Mr. Sandusky's victims is due almost exclusively to the media, and in particular, the sports media. 

Are Sandusky's victims any more harmed than those of a pedophile priest?  Or those raped in Africa on a daily basis?  Or this woman in Claysburg?  The article states:
In 1994, she pleaded guilty to corrupting minors, according to court documents.

"I wouldn't let him walk outside," former neighbor Rick Sawyer said of his son, now 9. "She'd be down at the bus stop."

Despite the rumors and strange behavior, several neighbors said they didn't know the full extent of Partsch's alleged crimes until she was charged last week.   "We knew there were a lot of kids going down there," said one neighbor. "I'm just glad we kept our kids from going there."
Where is the moral responsibility for those neighbors?  Why aren't their careers being erased as though they never happened?  

How is that situation any different than Mr. Sandusky?  Substitute her house for the PSU showers and Mr. Paterno for one of the neighbors who didn't know the extent of what was going on, and deep down, you have to admit there isn't much difference.   

Except that Partch's victims won't get millions of dollars for their pain and suffering.  If Mr. Sandusky was Joe Schmo and the attacks occurred in a shack in Timbuktu, none of those victims would likely even be able to find a lawyer if they wanted one.   

The first instance for Partsch was in 1994! They started investigating last September, but here it is July. How many more victims were enabled by the lack of action by neighbors or authorities trying to "make their case"?

Sandusky's victims suffered because HE chose to act on his urges.  Not because Paterno invited him into the showers.  Not because he coached at Penn State as a defensive coordinator.  Not because fans love to watch Penn State football.  The football program had nothing to do with this.  Had he chosen the Smeal Business College to attack his victims, would we be talking about closing the school of business down?  Don't hurt yourself pondering that one--the answer is no, silly.  Don't be a stooge.  

There is not one shred of evidence that Paterno or any of that group were fully aware that sexual abuse was occurring.  Graham Spanier went on record admitting that he was abused as a child and that if they had ever had evidence that sexual abuse was occurring, they would have acted.  

Punishing the current players, coaches and fans does not help the victims.  It creates more victims, innocent only of a crime of passion for their school.  Some of these players may have come to Penn State just because it was Penn State.  Or because of Joe.  But God forbid, some of them might have actually come because they love to play football and wanted to get an education.  And if you want to argue that they can still do this, then ask yourself why some are leaving.  Do you wonder if they feel victimized?  Or are they not worth your time, O' self righteous ones?  

Maybe you can sit in self-righteous judgment and delude yourself into thinking that punishing Penn State is going to make a difference in the world-wide war against child sexual abuse.  If people in State College stop watching football, this will never happen again!  Well, just don't open your mouth too wide, because it'll fill up very fast with the sand you have your head shoved into.

At first, I was angry at Bernstein.  

In the end, I feel sorry for him.

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