Thursday, January 03, 2013

Challenging the NCAA

The Governor of Pennsylvania is suing the NCAA for its incredibly harsh penalties against Penn State in reaction to the Jerry Sandusky child rape and molestation case. Gov. Corbett who was the Attorney-General who started the investigation. He says that the penalties against Penn State do not "punish" the wrong-doers but rather the current students and athletes, businesses and the residents of Pennsylvania.

I have a hunch he is right. There needs to be a better way to deal with this than to strip all current students and athletes of football. There has to be a better way for Penn State to be held accountable as an institution and to call them into responsibility to prevent this from happening again and to make restitution.

Yes, the University was very negligent in the handling of the case from the word "Go!"

Yes, Joe Paterno (a remarkable coach who began to believe his own PR) was very negligent in his role in the fiasco.

And of course, Jerry Sandusky deserves to be locked up for the rest of his unnatural life. And then some.

But let's be real. The students who are there today, the football players who came to Penn State to play football, should not be penalized. Yes, there are some real MAJOR issues in the NFL Semi-pro farm system college football world. But don't make Penn State the only scapegoat. Lots needs to be done.

But not at the expense of those who have had no part in it and are probably as repulsed by it as the rest of us.

1 comment:

Greg Chamberlin said...

I'm not a keen follower of sports or the scandals surrounding sports at the college or professional levels,yet I'd like to respond to the general malaise that, to me, appears to be endemic to sports at any level.

In the interest of full disclosure, my aversion to most sports and my lack of engagement with the scandals arises from my observations dating to my own high school years.

Briefly, the varsity club at my high school got into trouble for an initiation that got out of control and included initiates being compelled to masturbate en masse. After a one year suspension of the varsity club, things returned to the status quo of assumed impunity as demonstrated by a "turn a blind eye" toward the antics of coaches and athletes.

To jump to the scandal you address, it is hard for me to imagine penalties "too harsh" imposed on Penn State, especially given the magnitude of the crime. As is characteristic of our national mythos, we want to fix and limit responsibility to individuals and thereby neglect a broader context that likely gave rise to such abuses. Instead, the common wisdom goes, we'll get rid of the "few bad apples" and things will be fixed, better.

I'm unaware of what else Penn State is compelled to do to correct itself, but short of a collective examination of the intersection of capital and sports, the over-emphasis put on winning, the myth building apparatus of "winning coaches", the exaggerated place of sports in society, etc. then Penn State and other Universities, as well as high school sports programs and professional sports remain fertile environments for these and other abuses.