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Punishing Penn State football is a “dumb idea”


I used to work in Happy Valley and as a former Pitt alum, it was pretty unpleasant.  State College is a football town, noooooo doubt about it.  Come the weekend, I couldn’t get out of town fast enough, what with the unbroken line of alumni cars winding their way up Rt 322 and the snarl of the Nittany Lion on the radio after every song.  It got old really fast and was the longest two years of my life.

But I agree with James Carville that suspending Penn State’s football team is pretty stupid.  I don’t recall any of the current players being accused of sexual assault of boys.  Oh sure, the administrators and Paterno knew what was going on but what does that have to do with the players?  What does that have to do with the entire student body, except some of them took hero worship so far they couldn’t tell when their hero turned out to have feet of clay?  And anyway, Paterno’s dead, although it looks like he started his decomposition prematurely a few years ago.  Why in Gawd’s name didn’t he retire twenty years ago??

I understand the desire to punish.  But this is like, “I’m not saying it was your fault, I’m saying we’re going to blame you.”  Punishing the team creates a whole new set of victims.  Punish the coaches instead, fire all of the staff but don’t deprive the town, students and players from being insufferable football fans.  The quicker the right people are held accountable, the quicker the place can get back to normal.

Football is all they have.  Without it, State College is just plain fricking boring and they’ll be left to competitive cow tipping.

70 Responses

  1. Collective punishment for the sake of a few or even one is the reason for a lot of the world’s problems today. Scapegoating never goes out of style, but that doesn’t make it attractive or right.

  2. Perhaps the responsible and culpable leaders of Penn State are encouraging this “suspend football” drive to treat the football program as an expendable heat shield to be burned off as the Penn State leaders re-enter the respectability-sphere.

  3. Eliminating the program totally seems unfair but barring it from the incredibly lucrative post-season bowl games for five years might do a little toward encouraging future coaches and administrators to meet their responsibilities. Ohio State, another rabid football school, was forced to forfeit a bowl win and banned from bowl games for the next year because some players traded sports memorabilia for tattoos and the head coach did not report them when he found out. The coach was forced to resign athough he, like Joe Paterno, received a huge payout.

    Two years for tattoos doesn’t make five years seem like much considering the number of child rapes Sandusky committed after Paterno became aware that his first assistant coach was a criminal child sexual abuser in 1998.

    • Here’s the big flaw in that argument. In the case of the student athletes trading memorabilia for tattoos, the players were actually guilty of something.
      Do we have any concrete examples that any of the penn state players were guilty of anything? We know what Sandusky did. We know what paterno knew. We know that there was an administrative assistant that witnessed something. And we know that a whole lot of people covered it up. But we have no evidence that any player was involved.
      So, what you are suggesting is that we punish tge players for doing WHAT, exactly? For being in penn state when the pedophilia occurred? I lived there probably at the beginning of sandusky’s career in pedophilia. Am I also guilty of something?
      If paterno were still alive, I’d throw the book at him and prosecute him for being an accessory to a crime. I’d strip him of all of his honors and take his name off if all the plaques and trophies and buildings and playing fields. He would be disgraced. Why stop just because he’s dead?
      But those players? And the other students who will be impacted by the loss of revenue that penn state football brings in, not to mention the town? How do you punish a whole university for the actions of some rotten people? How is that justice?

      • The rules were broken by just two players and the coach, who all were “fired”, but the entire team was punished because that’s how sports works from the PeeWee leagues up. A local softball team for eleven-year-olds was recently banned from playing at city softball fields because one, only one, of the parents got into a fist fight with a couple of umpires. It sucks for the kids (although they can join other teams) but you can bet that every team that plays on those fields will make sure that their whacko parents stay in the stands. Sports associations rely on peer pressure to keep the idiots and the crooks under control and, if they don’t, everyone pays a price.

        I can’t say that I have any sympathy for Penn State’s students, either. Crowds of them protested when Paterno was fired but there was no counter protest on behalf of the children who were raped because Holy Joe and his bosses were more interested in protecting the glorious football program than the little boys who were being raped by one of their coaches. When reverence for a sports program supports that kind of perverse thinking, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make it clear that being a winning team does not relieve the participants from acting like decent human beings.

        Btw, the university/students are going to lose a lot more money than the bowl profits from the multiple civil suits that they will surely be settled because of the criminal behavior of its coaching staff and administrators.

        When you enter the realm of the ridiculous such as suggesting that I think that you might be “guilty of something” because you once attended the school, I waffle between sympathy for your stressful circumstances and a suggestion that you pop some Xanax. Today, I’m going with the recommendation for the Xanax.

        • I never said I attended the school. I used to work at a small chemical intermediates plant in state college. It was my first job as a chemist.
          I think a local softball team is a lot different from a major university football program and I kinda see where the more immediate influence of the parents would need to be curtailed. But that’s not what happened here.
          Let’s put it this way: If Joe Paterno robbed a bank and then hid behind his football team and legendary status for cover, would you still want to punish the team? If he had forged checks or murdered someone, would you want to punish the team?
          This is really no different except that some of the crimes happened in the locker room. The Football team was not involved.
          I’m sorry but I feel for those students who put their trust in Joe Paterno and expected to join a football program that was run with integrity and honor and then got mixed and implicated in a crime that they knew nothing about.
          This is essentially what you’re proposing, that we punish the people who just happened to be in the vicinity of the crime when it happened. I don’t think that’s justice and someday, you will find out that this impulse to pull the trigger on the football team had real consequences for some of the players. You will feel bad about it. Why not just avoid all of that at the beginning?
          You can’t reanimate Joe Paterno just so you can kill him off. That’s unfortunate. But Joe Paterno was not the football team. He just hid behind it to cover up his negligence for not reporting his friend to the police.
          I never liked the crazy football atmosphere of state college. It really was over the top and as a Pitt fan who watched the last Pitt-Penn State game in dismay as the Lions made a 2 point conversion in the snow, I was not happy to be constantly reminded of these lunatics. But for the most part, they are happy lunatics. It’s all good fun in football season. The whole town is in on it. Punishing the football team would be like canceling Halloween because some jerks decided to molest some trick or treaters.

          There are better ways to handle this. Shutting the program down even temporarily is only going to make it worse for everyone, including the victims who won’t be getting the money that the games would otherwise bring in.

          Step away from the frenzy, JeanLouise. The culprit is not the football team. It’s the administration.

          • Strawman after strawman is all you’ve presented, RD. Players can be taken care of as can local businesses. Penn State has an enormouse endowment fund and rebuilding the program from the bottom would be exciting. So they don’t get another state of the art office buildingin the athletic area,remind yourself why.

            Get rid of that statue and change the name on libravry,

          • I’m not talking about the team. I’m talking about the program which is a much larger, more powerful thing. I’m talking about a janitor who witnessed one of the assaults who was afraid to report it because he thought he would lose his job.

            What you’re seeing is not frenzy. It’s the determination to challenge those who minimize child rape whenever and wherever I see it. I must say that I never expected to see it in your posts, RD.

  4. I disagree. This is not about punishing the team. This has nothing to do with the team. There is always collateral damage when a crime is committed.

    As I said this morning at Sky Dancing, it is important to understand the enormity of this crime – whether the rapes themselves, the cover-up, the aiding and abetting, the accessories after the fact. For every two little boys abused, at least one probably became a pedophile. Since it is a reasonable inference from the evidence that S was raping from the 70s, that’s an awful lot of irreparable harm, spreading ever wider until the number becomes staggering. I’m talking thousands upon thousands, since, once a pedophile, always a pedophile. And the ones who didn’t become pedophiles are left with scars that will never heal. Guilt, shame, PTSD, inability to trust. Lives of solitary desperation.

    And I’m supposed to feel for the pampered athletes?

    They can relocate. They can sue the school for fraud in the inducement if they want. They lose very little really. But they are not the issue. It is an obscenity that the school continues to make money on this program, probably still loaded with guys who had to know what was going on. (The president isn’t charged with anything, and he is allegedly an expert on marriage and families. He’s got a cushy job with Homeland Security.)

    There must be an acknowledgement of the enormity of this crime by all involved, including by the Board of Trustees. There must be a clear message that child rape is not to be tolerated. Penn State must be hit in the wallet. (I was going to say “pocketbook,” but, hey, lookee here, they’re all old white men.) That is all they understand. Really. That is the only thing they understand. To do anything other than shut down the program for 14 years (the amount of time there is proof of the cover-up) would be saying it’s no big deal. It is a huge deal. This is about consequences for actions and inactions. Penn State should have already taken responsibility and voluntarily shut down the program for a year, hoping that would be enough. The arrogance of the Board is staggering. This is an institution with no shame.

    If the townsfolk are upset, well, shucks ma’am, so sad too bad. They can get angry at Penn State and that pompous narcissist who, had he lived, would have served time for perjury and endangering the welfare of a child and maybe even conspiracy. Get rid of the statue. Strip him of his “most wins evah.” Take his name off everything. Build a memorial to the real victims.

    This isn’t over yet. There may well be much more to come to light.

    • I totally agree with you mjames. Football is the cash cow of Penn State. Read the interview on CNN.com with former vice president of student affairs Vicky Triponey for a different perspective. After reading that I believe the Penn State football team should be shut down for 10 years. Penn state, is no longer a seat of higher education but a cult of personality. Anyone who came in and tried to rock the boat became the enemy. Hell, Penn State is college football’s answer to the Stepford Wives.

    • Vicki Triponey’s departure from Penn State was at the urging of many student organizations across campus, Paterno was just one person she tried to cross unsuccessfully, but the one she uses to try to make a name for herself. Read of her history at UConn, same methods of operating via “my way or the highway”, same results, she was run out of town there as well. Funny that she’s the only one to come forward, too, after 40 plus years as a head coach, where are all the others who were punished when they tried to “rock the boat” as far as Paterno was concerned? You’d think they’d be crawling out of the woodwork to tell their stories.

    • Sorry, I don’t agree that it is fair to take it out on potentially innocent athletes, some of whom might never get a college education if they didn’t have talent in football.
      Penn state is hardly the only college that lives for football. Its not the only place where bad things have happened ti good people. You can’t shut them all down. What purpose does it serve to blame the players, especially those who just joined the team in the past couple of years and had no idea what happened, much less witnessed anything.
      The cult of personality was built up around paterno, which I’ve always thought was a little creepy. He was just a coach whose best days were well behind him.
      For some reason, I get the feeling that this desire to punish the football team is driven by the dislike of college athletics and whipping up a frenzy over pedophilia. Yes, pedophilia is very, very serious. But this almost feels like guilt by association. It carries a whiff if the Nancy Grace fueled mob logic that wanted to strung up Casey anthony whether or not there was any evidence to convict. And while you might reasonably say that Anthony knew *something*, there’s a lot less reason to suspect a sophomore or freshman wide receiver of knowing anything about pedophilia in the locker room.
      There’s plenty of guilt to go around and I hope the people who are responsible are held accountable but punishing the student athletes doesn’t make any kind of sense no matter how you slice it. They’re just there and they’re an easy target. That’s really not fair to them.
      Let’s separate the guilty and foolish from the people who are just playing football like they do at Auburn and UCLA.
      Frankly, I don’t know what the town would do without football. There literally isn’t anything else going on in state college and punishing the football team for something tge administration did is going to severely impact businesses that make their money off of football season.

      • There is no guilt by association. The athletes are not being punished. This is not about the athletes. (So we shouldn’t throw a Wall Street crook in the slammer because his kids get punished too? That’s ridiculous.) Penn State itself is the guilty party. And particularly the football program. A school is always punished for past transgressions. So, I guess, in the spirit of compromise, we should let the program continue as long as the school makes zero money off it. Or we should fine the school all profits for 14 years.

        Meanwhile, the athletes should already have contacted attorneys. Believe me, if Penn State wanted them, some other school does too. Who the hell would want to be a part of that cesspool?

        And the athletes are just unpaid gladiators anyway, with but a glimmer of hope that they might eventually make some money on a football field if they manage to avoid career-ending injury. Did you ever read OJ’s letters to Nicole? He was illiterate. Totally illiterate. And a graduate of USC. The athletes are NOT getting an education. That’s ridiculous too. No one gives a hoot about the athletes except for the money they can generate. They’re being used too.

        • mjames, who do you think plays football at Penn State? Student athletes play football at Penn State. Of course they’re going to be punished. That’s what the NCAA death penalty is. It is punishing the football team. And unless you can prove conclusively that the student players were involved or knew anything about the rapes, then you are punishing them unfairly because Paterno is not around anymore to take his share of the blame. How does that make any sense??
          Maybe they are being used. I don’t know. But if playing football was the only way I could get a college education, believe me, I would have taken it when I was that age. If you come from a working class family and you’re not rich, there’s very little chance of getting through school these days without a scholarship.
          You know, some football players might be dumb as a box of rocks but I knew at least one in high school who went to the Naval academy. He was no dummy and far from illiterate. Don’t forget that Pat Tillman, who went to ASU on a football scholarship was also excellent academically. The stereotype we have of football jocks being less than students may be unfair to a good many of them who just need to get through school any way they can. Most of them do not get drafted.
          Then there is the money the football program brings to the university from alumni visits and the money that gets put back into businesses in the town. A ban could have severe consequences for the university and the town. And for what? Because a handful of people did horrible things?
          State College IS Penn State. There’s nothing else up there. There is no industrial base, it’s not a tourist destination, it doesn’t have a big arts draw. It’s just a medium sized town smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania with a big university and a football program. You have to climb a mountain to get to it and it better be worth your effort when you get there. If you want to know why football took over the place, it’s because it is so isolated and there’s really not much else to do. Football is not inherently evil.
          I understand the NCAA is looking into getting them for lack of institutional control. Yep, that’s nothing to sneeze at but they still haven’t linked any of the bad stuff to the team itself, which is the only entity that will be directly punished. The rest of the brutal fallout will be indirect but no less severe.
          Seems unfair to punish so many people for a football icon’s reprehensible behavior. He fell from grace but now he’s dead. His death is unfortunate because we can’t make his life as miserable as the victims of this crime. So, we must make his team’s lives miserable by proxy. Is that how it goes? Because that really is dumb.

          • State College IS Penn State. There’s nothing else up there. There is no industrial base, it’s not a tourist destination, it doesn’t have a big arts draw. It’s just a medium sized town smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania with a big university and a football program.

            That’s probably about the same argument that Paterno et al used to rationalize covering up for Sandusky.

            Last time I checked people went to college to get an education. They need to shut down the football program until the mindset that made Sandusky’s crimes possible is purged from the community.

            That is the lesson Penn State needs to teach.

          • This is my last comment, because we’re simply at loggerheads. My comments are not dumb, I am not Nancy Grace, and I certainly understand how the NCAA metes out punishments. I was a jock. I don’t need an education on jocks.

            Every NCAA punishment is after the fact and thus punishes many people, including players, who did not commit the violations. Your objection is, it seems to me, with the NCAA procedures for violations, though how a punishment could be meted out before the fact escapes me.

            This is not some special injustice for these particular football players. This is what always happens with NCAA violations. In this case, it was not an handful of people; it was the institution itself. The Board itself refused to see the obvious. How can you not understand that?

            It’s so easy to solve the problem, though. The athletes simply transfer, with help from Penn State (the culpable party in inducing them to attend Penn when the investigation was ongoing), monetary and connections wise. That is no biggie. The NCAA could set the whole thing up and make sure the players are in no way penalized.

            You seem to have no problem with Penn State continuing to rake in huge sums of money, with no accountability where it really hurts, because the townsfolk will lose revenue too. I have a huge problem with that. You also didn’t respond to my suggestion that the games proceed, as long as Penn State makes no money at all and foots all costs. Then the players play, the townsfolk get their revenue, and Penn State pays the piper. If the townsfolk lose revenue, then Penn State should be liable for that as well.

            I would have advised Penn State to suspend its football program voluntarily for one year. That would have shown some sense of responsibility. But the almighty dollar is all that matters.

            I’m done now.

          • You may be done but that doesn’t mean you are correct. You still haven’t given me one reason why punishment of the football athletes, general student body or town is necessary.

            I’m still waiting for an answer as to why this is necessary or fair.

            AND you happen to be wrong about the NCAA and its procedures in this case. From the NYT this morning:

            Perhaps the situation that most closely resembles the Penn State case is that of the Baylor men’s basketball team. In 2005, the N.C.A.A. barred Baylor from playing nonconference games for a season after violations that were uncovered in an investigation begun after the murder of a player by his former teammate.

            “The N.C.A.A. didn’t punish Baylor because of the criminal violations,” said Michael Buckner, a lawyer who has extensive experience with N.C.A.A. infractions cases. “The N.C.A.A. punished Baylor because of the underlying N.C.A.A. rules violations that were also involved in those activities.” The Sandusky case does not appear to involve any specific N.C.A.A. rule violations. Criminal violations are not necessarily N.C.A.A. violations.

            “As revolting as this is, unless the N.C.A.A. stretches its rules or potentially applies punishment for a non-Sandusky matter (such as the special treatment given to P.S.U. football players within the student code of conduct),” Ridpath, the Ohio professor, wrote in an e-mail, “I think their hands are somewhat tied.”

            It’s difficult for me to see how special treatment of a PSU football player is the equivalent of participating in a crime or its coverup.

            Of course, the NCAA may bow to public pressure but that wouldn’t make it any more right than the Casey Anthony jury sending her to death row based on no evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, in Anthony’s case, there’s a reason to believe she knew what happened to her daughter even though she might not have been responsible. In the case of the Penn State football team, there’s no evidence that a single athlete was aware of what was going on.

            So, where’s the justice? Or doesn’t that matter to you anymore? Why is it OK to hold everyone else accountable for the behavior of a few people? How does that make anything better for anyone? Why should the players and students feel contrition to the town for something they didn’t do?

            You know what? I don’t think you can answer those questions. You just want someone punished and you think that the football team’s deep pockets should be picked or no longer allowed to make revenue. That’s not particularly logical because how else is the university going to pay the victims. By their own arrangements, they are going to be punishing the team. That money won’t be used for new facilities or replacement staff or the students. It will go to the victims. But that’s not enough for you is it?

            You can’t give those kids their innocence back and punishing other kids isn’t going to make it better. That’s the sad truth. In this case, justice should be more important than mob sentiment.

          • myiq, are you saying that the problem is that football players have an attitude and they need to be brought low? If that’s the case, why stop at Penn State? Take your pick of any football program in the nation. They’re all doing the cock of the walk strut.
            The problem at Penn State is that they deified Joe Paterno. He and the football team seem to be joined at the hip because without the football team, what would Joe have been but a dried up old guy, a has been who outlived his glory days. He was a legend in his own mind. THAT’S what needed to be punished. In fact, the football team was in kind of in a hostage situation when Paterno was alive. He used it as a screen to deflect any inquiries into his behavior. But the guy is dead now. So, we need to whack the next nearest thing, whether they shared in any of the guilt or not, right? Let’s just shoot the hostage. And the other students have to be punished too because they stupidly would not accept that their hero was human and deeply flawed. And the town has to suffer to because, well, I don’t know, it just does. That will make people happy, to see State College suffer because somehow, student athletes are big, graceful and arrogant. Right?
            No one has shown me yet how the student athletes themselves were involved, witnessed, had knowledge of or directly benefitted from any of the pedophilia or coverup thereof. Do YOU have any proof? And if you don’t, how is punishing the team by proxy going to make this better?

          • Actually, football is inherently evil. As mjames stated, college football players are unpaid gladiators. They suffer life-changing injuries and even destroy their brains, literally, as a result of repeated concussions. In many programs, fewer than half graduate and those that do, often, like OJ, remain illiterate.

            I do have a great deal of sympathy for the local people who make their living off the football team but no sports program or church or prep school or any other revered organization can allowed to protect and abet child rapists without enduring significant negative consequences.

          • Well, if you want to make it a project to shut down any football program in the country that doesn’t meet your standards, knock yourself out. I’m all for it. I’d hate to see high school athletes who are brain damaged by concussions get scholarships to universities where they can be further damaged by concussions. Presumably, they knew what they were getting into, like the soldiers from working class families who end up in Iraq and Afghanistan because it’s the only way they can pay for their college educations when they get out of the service.
            You can’t cure every ill in the world, JeanLouise, but I admire your compassion and impulse to do good. Every effort that strengthens the bonds between people should be encouraged.
            But that is a different mission than wanting to hold the football team responsible for the misbehavior of other people. The ends do not necessarily justify the means. If you can hold the innocent responsible in this case, what is to stop you from applying the same punishment to any social malady you feel needs correction?
            I prefer that the innocent go unpunished. That’s just the way I am. And if they happen to be football players who are risking their health for the entertainment of others, that doesn’t make them less innocent.

      • I think the Nancy Grace analogy is telling. We’ve gotten to a point in this country where, confronted by something evil or unspeakable, we just throw up our hands and give up on holding the people who actually did it accountable and decide to zap people in the vicinity if it’ll make us feel better. If you want to punish anybody, hang the Penn State administrative leadership and the athletic department from the nearest tree (criminally or civilly), but I’d hesitate about zapping soem football kid who was 4 years old in 1998 or 7 in 2001.

        • ditto
          by the current mob logic, I should share in the punishment because I lived in State College during a period of time when Sandusky was doing his dirty deeds. Nope. I didn’t know anything about it. I was just there.
          Oh and my first daughter went to kindergarten and first grade there too. She’s obviously guilty of something too. Not sure what but let’s punish her anyway since proximity is the same as being guilty.

        • none of those players is being punished. They aren’t going to jail or paying fines. They are not losing their ability to attend classes or pass courses. They don’t get to play football for Penn State because Penn State’s football program has been suspended. They can go play somewhere else. Getting a free ride from Penn State is an extra privilege, not a right.

          • Again, what did they do so wrong that it is OK to ask them to make this kind of sacrifice?

            You MUST find them guilty of something before you ask them and the rest of State College to disrupt their lives.

            So, what is it they are guilty of? Be specific. It must be something that is clear and criminal and included in the reports or court records. This is what the NCAA is going to be looking for: clear evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the student athletes or proof that the football team was culpable of something. The current theory is that the NCAA won’t be able to find anything worth punishing them for.

            Feeling like they deserve some punishment because they are pampered athletes (I question that. These days, the NCAA can be be sticklers on that.) doesn’t mean they have done anything wrong and my sense of justice is offended by the idea that these students have to compete for places on other teams and colleges for scholarship money just so some the outrage of indignant Americans is satisfied. That seems very, very wrong to me. Sentiment is no excuse for ignoring fairness and justice.

    • yes, the whole program including the athletes benefited from the cover up.

      • I benefitted from the fact that I was born a white American. Should I be punished for slavery?

        Let the punishment fit the crime and the criminals. There is no evidence that the athletes had any knowledge of this.

        You know, just because it sounds right and every mother in the world wants to kill Penn State’s football program doesn’t mean it makes sense or is ethically right to do. You ARE allowed to think for yourself and make your own decision about this without deferring to the herd for confirmation.

        • You are punished for slavery. What do you think all the race baiting and cheating on behalf of Obama was all about? In addition, plenty of people have lost scholarships, job promotions etc… that should have come to them based on merit, but went to an African American due to affirmative action.
          But none of that is actually relevant. If someone has made a living off of Penn State football, they have done it, in part, because of the cover up of the long term molestation going on in the coaching staff.

  5. […] now: Shut down the Nittany Lions football program.” Just the one? … Then again: “Football is all they have. Without it, State College is just plain fricking boring and they’ll be left to competitive cow […]

  6. The crowd must have its pound of flesh.

  7. Make sure and blame the right people here. It’s not the penalizers who would be to blame for hurting the Penn State football program. It is the ADMINISTRATION that turned the other way while at least 15 boys were molested by this man, some of them on multiple occasions. Something needs to happen so that people in football administrations DON’T ever feel tempted to cover something like this up again.

    What if it was your daughter or son?

    I think the “death penalty” is the perfct thing. Let them have a football team, but kick them out of NCAA eligibility for money and status for at least 10 years. Scholarships only via school donations, no bowl game or TV money.

    • There seems to be some disconnect between the proposed punishment and the recipients of that punishment. The players, the students, the town, the university will all bear the punishment. How does this punish the administrators and coaches who were actually involved? The punishment does not fit the crime because the burden is falling on the people who have done nothing wrong.

      BTW, for those Pennsylvanians who think they are paying for Penn State, think again. Penn State is a “state RELATED” school, not a state school. The other state related schools are the University of Pittsburgh, Temple and I think Lincoln. A state related school gets a tiny fraction of its operating budget from the state. For all intents and purposes, it’s really a private institution that gets a pittance in state funding. I know because I went to Pitt which was also a state related school.

      • Losing football is NOT a punishment for students, townspeople etc… it’s is simply, no NCAA football. When the town, players etc.. have to go to jail or pay fines, then let me know. In the meantime there are many other sports for them to support.

        • Ok, if losing football is not a punishment, then what’s the point?
          Once again, you have failed to convince me that the individual team members are responsible for anything. Are the Penn State students responsible for anything? Is the town responsible? Who do you think this is going to affect if not the athletes, students and the town?

          I understand people’s frustration and wanting to strike SOMETHING down but you are picking the wrong target. The analogy would be the Catholic Church. Yes, the priests are guilty, yes, people higher up covered up for them. But does that mean you want to close the churches up for a few years to punish the parishioners and the day care center employees and the kids who use the day care center and the bingo nights and the soup kitchens, etc, etc? No, of course not. They haven’t done anything wrong.

          In fact, you want to keep Penn State football functioning as best as it can because some of the revenue can be used to pay damages to the victims. No football, no money.

          Once again, we have mob logic running away with itself. We saw the same thing with the Giffords shooting and Casey Anthony. It’s probably what the people of Salem experienced when they hung witches for no good reason.

          It’s time to get a grip. No I’m not being condescending. I’m getting exasperated with the fact that people are not thinking through the consequences of their proposed remedy. It doesn’t punish the right people and it makes everyone not involved more miserable in the midst of a deep recession. Like I said before, there’s not a whole lot else going on in State College. It’s not near any major cities. If football goes away, there are going to be a whole lotta people who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes who are going to pay for it. I don’t think that’s fair.

          You wouldn’t like it if it you were on the losing end of this deal and you were innocent of any wrongdoing.

  8. […] Riverdaughter: Punishing Penn State football is a “dumb idea” […]

  9. I don’t agree. If the Sandusky scandal doesn’t warrant the NCAA death penalty, how horrific must a school’s transgression be before a penalty is warranted? Covering up a serial killer in the program? Mass genocide?

    The idea that innocent players would be affected by the penalty, and therefore the penalty is too severe, is a non-sense argument. Plenty of completely innocent people are affected by the punishment meted out to the guilty simply by their completely innocent association with those who transgressed.

    The football-before-all-else, football-because-there’s-nothing else culture at Penn State was the problem. That culture needs eradication. As punishment and an example to all other football programs in the nation.

    Burn it to the ground.

    • You should burn it to the ground iff you can prove that the damage extends beyond a small circle of administrators and paterno and Sandusky himself. I will even provide the match.
      But before you do, you’d better make sure that some kid on scholarship from a working class family has an opportunity to live out his dream and transcend the boundaries of his class. Otherwise, what you do to him is as bad as what Sandusky did to those kids. You might see the transgressions differently because of the predatory sex. But I see it as a tragedy of dashed hopes and opportunities for no good reason.
      So, before you strike that match, think carefully about all the collateral damage.

      • “…if you can prove that the damage extends beyond a small circle of administrators and paterno and Sandusky himself.”

        The damage to Sandusky’s victims was already proven in a court of law. They certainly weren’t a part of Penn State. Saying that there is “damage” in the school from Sandusky’s crimes trivializes the impacts to Sandusky’s victims and borders on moral bankruptcy.

        I do hope the NCAA will work with the current players to help them transfer to other schools. If players can not secure an alternate school, Penn State ought continue their existing athletic scholarship terms through to graduation.

        The upside for the players is that they might transfer to a team and school with a better moral compass. If that doesn’t happen, they will have more time to apply to studying. In both cases, a win for the student.

        • But you haven’t answered the question: For what reason are we going to punish the football team?
          Don’t write another comment until you have a list of things that the FOOTBALL team did either criminally or in violation of NCAA rules.

          • For what reason are we going to punish the football team?

            1) The school failed to report suspected rape of a minor by the team’s defensive coach to the police and that failure warrants punitive action.
            2) Deterrent to other schools who may consider covering up a suspected crime to ensure the football team’s game performance.

            A list of things that the FOOTBALL team did…criminally:

            1) The football team’s coach and the team’s school management failed to report a suspected rape of a minor to the police thereby enabling the perpetrator to rape other minors over the next decade. This single point is sufficient; it stands without needing a second list item.

            This isn’t a homework, kick back, or no-show job scandal. Kids were molested and much of was preventable had McQueary, Paterno, or school management reported the suspected crime to the authorities. The consequences for the organization must be in line to the magnitude of the crimes and the magnitude of the moral failure.

          • You have failed to connect the football players to any of the criminality.
            Is this justice?? By whose standards?

          • Doncha see, RD, them players are all witches in helmets! Witches, I tells ya! BURN THE WITCHES!

            Why, one of ’em even turned me into a frog! (I got better.) :mrgreen:

          • A NEWT! It was a NEWT.
            I know, it’s disturbing.

          • As many people have suggested, there are many ways to ameliorate the potential harm to scholarship athletes and to local businesses but you continue to insist that nothing be done to a football program that has so debased a university and a community that they would rather allow children to be raped than risk bad publicity for the team. You’ve gone so far as to accuse the people who see a systemic problem that needs to be addressed to those who burned witches.

            Seriously, put the chadonnay back in the fridge.

          • Actually, JL, I don’t drink ethanolic beverages. However, if I must endorse blanket punishments of people who neither committed rape, nor covered up for rapists, nor even KNEW about it, in order to be considered sober, then pass the Ripple. 😛

            Your lynch-mob mentality has become tiresome. You may not touch my monkey. :mrgreen:

          • OMG! The monkey touching is priceless. Srsly LMAO.

          • Monster from the ID, do you have some kind of funnel system whereby you can guzzle your Ripple while your head is so far up your ass? That does seem to be the kind of creative thinking you would spend months perfecting since addressing significant social problems is way above your pay scale.

  10. That’s chardonnay.

    • Yup, you outline the very logic that led to the failure to report the suspected crime. “We shouldn’t do anything inhumane because it might disturb the players and program.” Now that it got out, it’s “we shouldn’t do anything to disturb the victim players, they didn’t do anything wrong”.

      The very thing that precipitated the whole fiasco (coddling the players & protecting the program) is being repeated.

      At some point, the feelings of the players and the program must take second priority to excising the cultural rot in Penn State.

      I’m not suggesting that the players be punished (aka burned). In fact, I see them as relatively innocent in the entire thing. But like the child whose father goes to prison and has a tough life because of it, the players are going to have to deal with it.

      Such is life…

      • Speaking of logic, where have I read about the variety favored by the advocates of blanket punishment before?

        Oh yeah: “The Imperial Japanese Navy just bombed Pearl Harbor! We’d better lock up all the Japanese-Americans in case a few of them are spies!” 🙄

      • You still have not shown that any player knowingly allowed pedophilia to happen in the locker room and covered it up. The way you and others are reacting you’d think that the quarterback was standing outside the shower room with towels. You know damn well that they had nothing to do with it and broke no NCAA rules.
        If the NCAA bows to public pressure and delivers the death penalty to Penn State, it will create a whole new class of victims.
        Again,the attitude is “I didn’t say it was your fault, I said we’re going to blame you” and this is not justice to me. When fathers go to prison, we should not mete out extra burdens on their children. That shows a remarkable lack of compassion for the hardships those kids face.
        You know what, I find that analogy so offensive that you really need to go somewhere else and comment. The world is full of mean, hard hearted people who just want other people to be as miserable as they are.
        Go peddle your attitude somewhere else.

  11. I googled “Penn State money at the root” and got this:

    I doubt the university will voluntarily shutter the football program for a season. The Sandusky affair is but a maelstrom on an ocean of money in which the institution enjoys swimming. I have to believe a certain line of thinking is as follows:
    “If certain people covered up child abuse for decades without punishment, why should we punish ourselves when that guy is about to go to jail forever and those individuals are no longer Penn Staters? And really, is it fair to punish football for the depravity of a pedophile and the indifference of others?”
    Here is where the NCAA needs to bust out the whoopin’ stick and say, ” … Yeah.”


    So RD would see the value of exploring an alternate way to de-incentivize (if there is such a word) the financial imperative that drives a scenario such as the decades long cover-up at Penn State? By the way I don’t think there is one.

    • That assumes that I see any reason at all for punishing the football program for the actions of a handful of people who used it as some kind of status symbol.

      I don’t.

      What this is starting to sound like is a desire to punish the football program for *something* just because it makes a lot of money for the school and because the players are on scholarship. Annnnnd, what else exactly? Did the players have anything to do with the crimes that were committed? Did the student body have anything to do with the crimes? Did the town have anything to do with the crimes? From what I have read, the university will pay dearly for the actions of Paterno and the administration. This is not going to go unpunished.

      What people really seem to be angry with is the football program and privileged athletes and you know what? They’re all over the country. Penn State is not the only football school in the nation. Why not get rid of all of them if that’s what people are really objecting to? Why tangle that sense of resentment up with a criminal scandal that has nothing to do with the players on the team? At least be honest about your motives. Those players didn’t molest a single kid and I’m betting that they had no idea it was going on. In any case, there is no proof.

      What I am seeing is a moral crusade against college football. Be careful. Pay attention to who is stirring this up. Because it looks like a brilliant distraction from the right wing noise machine. People can feel powerless to do anything about politics and corporations but there is always some thing that can be used to vent all of their frustrations about how helpless they feel. And it looks like the Penn State football program is getting all that ire.

      I am really surprised at how quickly and gullibly people have fallen for this. The Fox news crew must be eating it up. They LOVE pedophile stories, the more the better. And now that they can connect it with a bunch of innocent student athletes that everyone loves to hate, they’re going to milk it for all it’s worth. Just wait, before you know it, we’ll be asking the candidates where they stand on the NCAA delivering the death penalty to Penn State and the way they answer that question will be twisted to represent how they really feel about pedophilia.


      • Its true, jocks made my life a living hell since middle school!

        But I probably could win an argument if I had my own blog! Nah! I’m too lazy. Oh, there’s this:

        People should know how the agent business really works, how widespread the inducements to players are and how players have their hands out. It isn’t just the big, bad agents making them take money.
        -Josh Luchs

        (This story includes the names of 30 former college football players who are alleged to have taken money or some other extra benefit in violation of NCAA rules. The primary source of these allegations is Josh Luchs, who has been a certified NFL agent for 20 years.)


        Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/magazine/10/12/agent/index.html#ixzz20t6d7G38

      • Again, why limit the crusade to Penn State? Why not just hose out every college stadium in the country?
        BTW, I’ve known people who went to school on swimming scholarships. They might not have gotten into college otherwise. If the NCAA imposes the death penalty, women’s sports will be affected too because the football team generates the revenue that gets shared in part with other sports programs.
        Do you see how this will spread? It’s thoughtless and unfair to more people than the football team, who, by the way, haven’t done anything wrong.

      • “I am really surprised at how quickly and gullibly people have fallen for this.”

        Disclosure: I think I was close to joining this mob as well, before I read RD’s post. Thanx for waking me up.

        That reminds me of how I felt four years ago, observing the Obummer phenomenon. I had thought, naively, that only those silly right-wingers could be herded like cattle. We liberals were cats, proud unherdable mavericks one and all, or so I thought. Then I saw many fellow liberals, whom I thought had better sense, step up to drink the Blue Obummer Kool-Aid. (Later, I saw others, who had shrewdly rejected the Blue Obummer Kool-Aid, abandon that shrewdness to drink the Red Wingnut Kool-Aid instead, but that’s another can of worms.)

        Apparently, the mob mentality is a common human weakness. 😦

        • “Herdable like cattle” may be a weak metaphor. Lining up like iron filings around a magnet may be a stronger metaphor. Every single iron filing lines up with the magnetic field all by its own individual self. It doesn’t affect the lining-up-behavior of any other iron filing. But it does not quite excercise individual choice in lining up. Its lining-up with a magnetic field is an innate property. It may be that most everyone has certain “iron filing properties” related to certain perceptions of certain things and stuff, and any clever manipulator with the right magnetic field can get a whole bunch of iron filings to line up with out any herding of cattle needed at all.

        • So, now, you’re drinking the Penn State Kool-Aid. That’s certainly nothing to brag about. Kool-Aid is Kool-Aid and child rape victims deserve to know that an organization that aided and abetted their rapes has been punished even if some innocent people’s lives are impacted.

          My sister once worked for a chiropractor who was raided and indicted for Medicaid fraud. She had nothing to do with the fraud but she lost her job because the office closed. That’s life and we all have to learn that truth eventually. She found another job and Penn State’s players can find other schools to play at, particularly if Penn State continues to fund them. Failing to make significant changes in the program signals to the students and the administration that football is more important than the safety of children.

  12. Late to the party here. I’m amazed how hard it seems to be to distinguish collective guilt from justice, and to remember that one of the main points of rule of law is that you punish only the guilty. Not the whole damn village.

    Those are issues separate from how corrupt college football is, what the athletes are actually there for, whether they learn anything, how pathetic denial among the fans is/was, how much it’ll hurt the actually guilty administrators in a roundabout way if they lose money from the football program, or what the exact rules of the NCAA are.

    The only point RD is making is that in a legal system that’s trying to be fair, you don’t punish the innocent with the guilty.

    (Nor does it help anything. What’s needed is a way to make all “innocent bystanders” call out the cool or powerful when they’re acting like criminals, whether they’re in a church or a bank or a locker room. And applying collective guilt does nothing for that goal, the real goal, either.)

    • Well thanks for trying.
      FWIW, I think it is a cultural phenomenon. People are frustrated and angry and striking back at a target. I’m very disappointed.

    • quixote, clearly, you fail to understand the difference between criminal law and administrative regulations. No one has suggested that any innocent people follow Sandusky to prison or Joe Paterno to hell. Penn State has a systemic problem that led to the protection of a child rapist for fourteen years. That requires a systemic solution. Life is not always fair. Ask the children who had to blow Sandusky. The Penn State players can go elsewhere and the school is certainly rich enough to continue their athletic scholarships no matter where they matriculate.

  13. As you pointed out, Happy Valley is a college football town. I do not have a a problem with college football. In fact, I love college football.
    I also have two children and am appalled by the brazen disregard for children (of the comunity no less) exhibited by the top people at Penn State. The shame they are now facing pales in comparison to the shame they would have endured had they, at one time over the 14 years this was happenning in their own backyard, done the right thing.
    I also understand the the idea of punishing students – primarily the football team – seems unfair to some. To them I say, “Tough luck.” You were lured to Penn State under false pretenses. You were promised an opportunity to play for a well regarded program, under a well regarded head coach with an opportunity to showcase your talents and maybe earn a chance to play NFL football. Well, you were lied to. The program was led by an amoral coach who valued his reputation over the safety of the childrten in his community. He coerced his superiors into hiding the facts and allowed Jerry Sandusky to get away with horrible crimes. He did nothing to stop him. Never once did he pick up the phone and, even anonymously, tip offf the authorities.
    Coach Paterno is hopefully living the afterlife in a nice warm place with a red decore awaiting the arival of his fellow conspirators.
    In the culture war that is college football, sometimes innocent people must pay a heavy price. So it is with this idea that I suggest the NCAA take the never before action of immediately and permanently terminating the men’s football program at Penn State.
    Furthermore, they should force Penn State to remove all statues and paraphenalia with Joe Paterno’s image and or name and use the money of any items sold since the scandal broke out to raise funds for children’s community programming.
    Lastly, if Penn State wants to have NCAA sanctioned teams in other athletic endeavors, I suggest 25% of the donations to these programs be also used toward children’s programs.
    Happy Valley is an inappropriately named town. The memories of the children abused by Jerry Sandusky and the university itself are a black eye on American culture that values athletics more than children’s safety.
    This sort of punishment will serve as the strongest deterent for any other school that is so devoid of any moral compass.

    • Ok, since I am the boss here, I am closing this thread. Too many people are developing very hard hearts and senselessly striking out at a group of people who are blameless. Reading the callousness and meanness makes me physically ill. Some of you people need to examine your consciences and figure out what is making you so bitter and ugly inside.
      That’s the final word.

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