Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sandusky Verdict

It's okay to think that this is what justice looks like.

I'm going to add my voice to the many, many people saying that this can't end here; Penn State officials like Graham Spanier have already been shown the door, and that's good, but they may have seriously run afoul of duty to report laws, and that needs to be explored. Moreover, the entire athletic department at Penn State needs to be re-examined and reorganized, with the express goal of making sure that no other coach ever gets this much power- both formally and influentially- again. That alone is a long and difficult process, and I don't envy the students and faculty at Penn State for having to undertake it. But, then, nor do I pity them, after their shameful display of tribalism in the immediate wake of the scandal.

Ultimately, though, we're all going to have to rethink how much we're willing to devote to college football. Because that's really the root of the issue here; football was just too important to Penn State, to Happy Valley and all of Central Pennsylvania, really, for its administrators to think of anything besides protecting the program. They had so much incentive to cover for Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky- their jobs, possible promotions, even the money and prestige of the school itself. That's not to excuse them; it's just to say that their poor moral choices are not the end of this story.

And Penn State was hardly unique. College football is at the center of hundreds of schools. Hundreds of school administrators are compromised in dealing with it. Hundreds of schools devote far too much money to it. And that means that even when evils far less than Jerry Sandusky's arise, school officials need extraordinary courage to confront them. That's a problem, and it's going to remain one so long as, every Saturday morning, we forget what happened Monday through Friday.


  1. Arguably it takes more moral courage to stand up to lesser infractions.

  2. There have been repeated stories about Big 10 Universities pushing rape allegations under the rug because it involves student athletes or they just don't want anyone to know how prevalent rape is on college campuses. We need to change mandatory reporting and investigation rules.