Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NCAA slams Penn State

I indulged in a momentary my-school’s-better-than-your-school gloat this weekend after reading my dear alma mater claimed yet another national championship.

Yes, as re-posted Sunday, Ohio University was again named by the No. 1 party school in America.

“We’re Not . . . Penn State! We’re Not . . . Penn State!”

A friend said this weekend I’ve been strangely silent on the Penn State scandals. I apologize for giving that impression and think I’ve been current.

I wrote about my November first impressions here, and here in January where I wondered why Paterno had a closed casket and if he wore to his spiritual destination those big dorky glasses.

I said briefly here that I think they should have left the Paterno statue intact, but they should have added a statue of a small, frightened little boy being ignored by the Paterno statue.

Sure I could have written about it more, but I’m reluctant to spend an hour or so a day engaging in topics that make my skin crawl.

But today everyone’s talking about the devastating NCAA penalties and I feel compelled to share my thoughts.

So here you go: I’m glad I went a school where no one knew the names of who coached what and the only asses that got kissed where the ones that belonged to the bartenders bestowed with the power to cheapen or accelerate our inebriation.

What do I think about the NCAA, renown as it is for boneheaded logic, demolishing the football program’s near-term viability and vacating 111 of Paterno’s wins from 1998 through 2011, the span during which Paterno knew about Sandusky’s heinous crimes and allowed them to endure?

I think, “Touchdown! Yes! Let’s go for 2!”

If I could find a big foam finger with “NCAA!” etched on it, I’d be waving it around. I think it’s a good first step in dismantling a national culture of elevating to god-like status men who coach Division I college football.

I wholeheartedly approve of anything that will diminish the deification of big time college sports.

How the NCAA even exerted jurisdiction in a criminal matter is subject to debate, but that Penn State doesn’t contest the penalties is telling.

Like Watergate, the school scandal was about those in power engaging in criminal activities to maintain power.

It’s about JoePa’s lust to be the best coach ever and to ensure he could keep zooming around in private jets even as he knew his once-trusted assistant had an on-going appetite for raping boys.

It’s about people looking the other way because doing the right thing could be harmful to something they cherish.

The severe penalties are reminders we need to cherish our children over our potential bowl bids.

I keep thinking about the millions of Nittany Lion fans who today are devastated that a huge part of their identity has been disgraced. They know nasty co-workers are snickering about their crushed affections.

To them, I say, “Get over it. You made the mistake of attaching your identity to something you couldn’t control. Enjoy your memories, but from now on be your own best role model.”

I’m always left out when I go on fancy press trips with other mostly male writers. Invariably, they will bond over college football while I sit there feeling like I’m my wife.

She graduated from Penn State and has joyful memories of her time there. She enjoyed going to fall football games and has her brush with JoePa story, but no one would ever know she went to Penn State unless they asked.

Like me, she has great college memories of going to a wonderful university where a small percent of the students happened to play football. But she’d never let it define her.

I’m tired of seeing tawdry behavior from people we rightly expect to inspire.

Maybe that’s why it seems I’ve been uncommonly silent on Penn State. It seemed like we were so awash in a culture that was hidebound determined to never change I just felt, gee, what’s the use?

I felt like I didn’t have much to say.

Yesterday, the NCAA spoke for me.


Tommy Smith said...

Well said Chris! As always your spot on my friend.

Tom Maynor said...

Awesome perspective. Thanks Chris!

Tom Bedell said...

You and I could talk on a press trip, Chris. I despise football for the very excesses it promotes on both a college and professional level.

The game itself is okay, though it bores me as a spectator. It's the whole rah rah thing that has always creeped me out. And it's the rah rah thing that basically led to this entire mess.

The penalty is just, and may be just the beginning. Though wiping out victories does strike me as a little bizarre, a little 1984ish in rewriting history. The games were played, they were won or lost. Taking an eraser to them prevents JP from being the winningest coach ever, but may open up a stranger can of worms down the line.

Chris Rodell said...

Thanks, my trio of Tommy friends. I appreciate the re-tweet, too, my old OU buddy Tom, and it's always great to hear from you, Tennessee Tommy.

Great perspective, Bedell. I hope one of these days we get to talk on that press trip. Can't believe it hasn't happened yet.

Best to you all!


Anonymous said...

Your commentary here even exceeds your already high standards of writing in one hand and sippin a brewski in the other.

Chris Rodell said...

Typing one-handed is my greatest skill, John. Thanks! Always glad to know you're on board.