Penn State Scandal: Happy Valley is Burning
No funnies or satire this time around. No making fun of anyone or mocking anyone’s beliefs to get a raised eyebrow or two. It’s not often you’ll hear me, Pagel, say anything too serious through this medium because this is one of my few escapes from the reality of our world: everyone’s job sucks, our spouses are fat and annoying, we have no money, our kids are complete jerks, etc, etc. Who wants to read more of that? Like my love of sports and pop culture, I want this space to be fun, irreverent and ultimately a place where you go to slack of from work and life for a few minutes.
From that perspective, it saddens me to even have to address something as awful as the brutal accusations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. However, I cannot in good conscience ignore this issue and continue on with my regular antics without saying something. That wouldn’t be right.
Like many others, I am sickened by Jerry Sandusky’s behavior. I’m not even going to give this piece of human garbage the benefit of the doubt by including the words “alleged” or “accusations” when describing his actions and the charges being brought against him.
The vile sexual acts themselves are enough to make one’s stomach turn, if you want to read them in detail, be warned now, it isn’t exactly light reading. I know I was simultaneously nauseated and angered. Here is the grand jury report.
Why am I so angry? Not just because of the molestation and rape, but also because of the flagrant abuse of power. Jerry Sandusky used his aura, his credentials, the mystique of Penn State football and his relationship with that program to gain the admiration and trust of impressionable young men and boys.
Sandusky took his foundation, The Second Mile, and used it to satisfy himself. He took something positive and contorted it into something evil. Many of the young boys needed that outlet, needed a positive role model in their life, needed the chance to be in an environment where they can just be rowdy young boys learning more about football.
Children look to adults for guidance, protection, encouragement and love. They put their trust and innocence in the hands of the adult world and rarely bat an eyelash when doing so, for Sandusky to accept that trust and use it to gratify his own perverted desires is maybe the most heinous crime, next to murder, anyone can perpetrate.
I’ve been listening to the various sports talk stations here in Cleveland and both have been providing great coverage and have reeled in some fantastic guests to weigh in as things develop, plus the phone calls from alleged abuse victims (I only use alleged here because it’s not exactly like the morning drive shows can background check their callers) have provided real insight into how these men, usually men, abuse their charges.
It’s mostly coaches or teachers, a few callers mentioned family members but it’s always someone in a position of power and authority. Because of that person’s position within the community and the youth and overwhelming fear the victims have of their abuser, almost none of these accusations are followed up by police, and many times they aren’t even reported.
Sandusky’s abuse was reported as early as 1998; it was reported to university police by the victim’s mother and corroborated by Sandusky himself. The police essentially gave Sandusky a slap on the wrist and told him not to shower with boys anymore while in Penn State athletic facilities. I mean, really, that’s it?
In 2002 he was caught red-handed abusing a victim in the facilities of the Penn State football program. Joe Paterno knew about the incident, current wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary witnessed the act, Tim Curley and Glenn Schultz swept the incident under the rug.
Curley and Schultz have resigned and will probably go to jail for perjury and failure to report sexual abuse. Maybe they can share a cell with Sandusky, although I’m not sure they should associate with him in prison; inmates don’t take kindly to child rapists.
Mike McQueary shouldn’t last another day on Paterno’s staff, as I’m writing this I find it hard to believe he hasn’t already resigned his position but maybe he will by the time I post this. I also find it hard to believe he hasn’t been arrested for failing to be a human being when a child was in desperate need of someone’s help—some members of the national media were defending McQueary’s actions, calling him a “confused kid.” He was 28-YEARS-OLD in 2002. The confused kid was the one being sodomized by Sandusky in the team showers.
Joe Paterno needs to resign immediately. His failures to pick up the phone and call the police make him just as culpable as Schultz, Curley and McQueary. Paterno, before this weekend, was above reproach. He ran the one clean institution in the messy, scandal-ridden college football landscape. He was a paragon of virtue amongst a battlefield of tainted men.
Not anymore. If “JoePa” believes in the ideals he has used to build his program, the commitment to family and team, an emphasis on education, respect, faith in God, human decency, etc., then he should step down as head coach of Penn State after issuing an apology to everyone Sandusky and his program has harmed.
Every second the people associated with this scandal remain in the signature blue and white of the Nittany Lions is a second too long. By not quitting, they are holding up a big middle finger to those who have been wronged: the abuse victims, their families, those who volunteered for Sandusky’s Second Mile foundation, friends and family of those being accused, former players, potential Penn State recruits, the students, the fans…I don’t think I can list all of the people who have been or will be affected in one way or another.
This is the only reasonable resolution. There are no other compromises or solutions to the quandary facing Paterno, McQueary and anyone else that may have been privy to Sandusky’s heinous acts. The only solution is to quit, go home and pray to whomever they believe in that one day the victims will have their justice and that the last bit of integrity, the last bit of humanity inside them didn’t die when they put football ahead of the well being of at least nine children.