By Leland Stein III –
I wrote in a 2009 Michigan chronicle article that the “worlds of sports and politics are invariably intertwined in a multifaceted, complex and convoluted mixed.”
I acknowledge that on one hand, sport is entertainment, and an escape from the doldrums that permeate peoples’ everyday existence; yet on the other hand, sports entertainment presents itself as a much too serious endeavor for too many. Politics, sports and privilege unquestionably are a vehicle that generates laws and govern our everyday movements through humanity.
My interjections were brought to the international forefront recently as the Penn State sex scandal was thrust into all our consciousness and sensibilities.
All of America’s phobias have been propelled onto the national stage. White privilege, hero worship, money generation, school pride, homosexuality, friendships and cover-ups.
As the facts present themselves . . . it is all wrong on so many levels!!!!
One of America’s great sports centers and universities has been brought to its knees after allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts relating to sexual abuse of eight young boys over a 15-year period, including alleged incidents that occurred at Penn State.
A grand jury investigation reported that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno in 2002 that he had seen Sandusky abusing a 10-yearold boy in Penn State football’s shower facilities. According to the report, Paterno notified Athletic Director Tim Curley the next day about the incident.
I was sent the Grand Jury reports and the details of the case are morbid. Paterno in his so-called defense said McQueary informed him that “he had witnessed an incident in the shower,” but he at no time “related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report.”
Okay Papa Joe, legally you are off the hook having done your minimum due diligence; however, the world was not buying it, as evident by you having more wins than any FBS coach, but got canned along with school President Graham Spanier, because sane minded people concluded that no one in the Penn State family did enough to stop, report or investigate the molestation of boys as young as 10 by former defensive coordinator Sandusky.
Being a father of two young men, a coach’s son and former athlete, I cannot understand how parents, coaches and administrators blindly closed their collective eyes to one of the most disturbing tragedies in American sports lore.
I guess Paterno and his holier than thou privilege did not, could not throw his good friend under the bus. I guess Penn State as a university just could not, did not want the stain of the molestation actions put upon its academia. I guess that police and investigators could not, did not want to bring down the lordly Paterno, who had fashioned a record winning career.
Paterno has 24 bowl victories, 46 seasons as the head coach of Penn State, and a record 409 career victories at Penn State, but Paterno professed to see no evil or hear no evil.
Stepping into the closed coaching fraternity, but breaking ranks is former Oklahoma University and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer. He said members of the Penn State coaching staff had to be aware of former defensive coordinator Sandusky’s alleged behavior.
“Having been in this profession a long time and knowing how close coaching staffs are,” Switzer exclaimed, “I knew that this was a secret that was kept secret. Everyone on that staff had to have known. You think that a 13-year assistant ... hasn’t told someone else? His wife? His father? People knew. The community knew.”
I say there are so many more people culpable than just Paterno. Privilege and hero worship has been brought to its knees. All of it is so wrong on so many levels!!
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @ LelandSteinIII.
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