If you were following the Jerry Sandusky/ Joe Paterno scandal through ESPN’s coverage you might get the impression that a group of children maliciously conspired to smear the “legacy” of Joe Paterno. In fact, I think I can go the rest of my life without ever again hearing the words Paterno and legacy in the same sentence. Or paragraph. Or more.
Anyone familiar with the muck and slime of NCAA Division 1 football is aware of how common it is for schools and/ or alumni to cover up wrongdoing by players and coaches. After decades of coaching staffs and athletic directors looking the other way or outrightly participating in coverups and misdeeds a reasonable person might have sarcastically asked “Geez, what would it take for these creatures to think something is more important than avoiding embarrasment or winning games – multiple child rapes?”
Well the ongoing investigation at Penn State allegedly proves that even that low estimation of the ethics of coaches and administrators in Division 1 football would be wrong. Apparently there is absolutely no point at which human concerns trump the ingrained attitude that winning and covering up are all that matters in order to keep the money rolling. Coaches often used to be players, and in the bizarre world of American athletics players who have Division 1 level talent are taught at an early age that the rules don’t apply to them. And as they see coaches and administrators fix their grades, look the other way when they accept under the table money or commit acts of violence against women and sometimes other men they think it’s their savage due and carry that attitude with them into coaching or front office work. And communities that are home to NCAA Division 1 football and basketball programs often become like one big organized crime neighborhood, thinking that anything that interferes with their narrow little interests MUST be resisted. And closing ranks suspiciously at any hint of criticism. That’s why you get spectacles like the “Hooray for Child Rape” mob on Paterno’s lawn rioting and overturning vehicles at the news of the alleged pedophile enabler’s firing.
This is a nightmarish story about who knows how many childhoods horribly interrupted and about adults allegedly behaving as if avoiding embarrassment to “the brand” and supposed tainting of “legacies” was more important than calling the cops about alleged multiple child rapes. Yet with all that horror and the added drama of a disappearing and legally dead District Attorney possibly relevant to the case, we’re repeatedly treated to stories concerned with the “legacy” of one seemingly petty and selfish man.