The other shoe finally dropped today for the Penn State football program, and it dropped hard. So hard in fact that it seems like Penn State football may never be the same. In the wake of the NCAA’s ruling, the question spreading across the country today is not only did the punishment fit the crime, but was the punishment too harsh?
In my honest opinion, I don’t feel like anything the NCAA could have handed down today could have been deemed too harsh. The things that went on over the course of years and possibly even decades was sickening enough. The fact that grown adults responsible for upholding what is just and right failed to do anything but look the other way is an even bigger travesty.
Yes, Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in jail getting what’s coming to him, Joe Paterno is dead and gone, and the others associated may soon be seeing jail time themselves, but that wasn’t enough. It never should have been enough. The university itself needed to be punished. I’ve said before that I believe even more people had an intuition or inkling of what was going on and also turned a blind eye, so why should a limited number of people be held accountable? The whole system of Penn State should be to blame.
People argue that current students, athletes, fans, other employees and even people who own and operate businesses that rely on the football team shouldn’t be punished for something they had no part in.
That’s only partly true.
While they weren’t the one’s molesting children or aiding in a coverup, they helped build a culture that allowed for it to happen. Placing Paterno and the football program on a pedestal was their fault and as a direct result, helped allow them to believe they could get away with protecting the football program regardless of the cost. They helped create the culture that the NCAA felt they needed to correct. Does that not make them partly responsible, at least to some extent as well?
Paterno and everyone associated with what went on felt they could operate beyond reproach because the fans gave them that power; treating them as if they were higher class citizens, looking the other way on certain things all while building statues and placing names on buildings. It was the almighty Penn State, the football program that could do no wrong and had never received any NCAA sanctions under Paterno’s watch.
Turns out they did do wrong. A lot wrong actually and the NCAA did what they had to do. They brought the force of a ten ton hammer down on the Penn State football program in the form of bowl bans, stripped records, fines, loss of scholarships, and releasing players from commitments without penalty. It’s going to take years, if not decades to recover from this.
So while Penn State deals with these penalties in their own way and begins the healing process, it should also serve as notice to fans across the country of other various programs. This was just as much a warning to you (myself included) as it was to other coaches and school administrators.
There’s no way of knowing what goes on behind closed doors at places like Ohio State, LSU, Texas, Washington etc. Beware placing your beloved coaches and players on pedestals and making them out to be gods among men. They aren’t. It’s only football. There are things that should come first before football.
Penn State forgot about that. Not just Joe Paterno and his bosses, but also the fans who loved and supported him for half of a century. Today they paid the price for their hero-worship.
But remember, they aren’t the victims here. Far from it.