Ok. I know a lot of people have been talking about the Penn State scandal over the past week-and-a-half, so I’ll try to keep this brief and to the point. Yes, Jerry Sandusky is a disgusting human being. Yes, Joe Paterno and the other leaders at the university were unfathomably more disgusting for allowing this to happen. But believe it or not, these are neither the main points nor the key takeaways from the disaster. Allow me to explain.
Jerry Sandusky, one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time, retired abruptly at the age of 55. For the moment, forget all speculation as to why he quit. What catches my attention here is the aftermath of his retirement. Fifty-five is relatively young for a football coach. Doesn’t it seem bizarre that nobody hired him? Not a single Division I school even spoke to him.
This makes no sense.
Why in the world would not one football program in the country pounce on the opportunity to bring in one of the greatest defensive coordinators in the history of the game? Here, I’ll let you in on the answer: everybody knew. No, not just Joe Paterno and the powers at Penn State. Everybody. All collegiate and professional football programs had heard the whispers. “Jerry Sandusky has demons.” “Jerry Sandusky has been abusing kids.” “Stay away from Sandusky, he’s not worth the risks.” This is the only way to explain the total lack of interest after Sandusky’s retirement.
So every organization in football knew that Penn State was housing something unimaginably horrible. And how many people investigated these rumors and reported the abuse? No more than a handful. This brings us to the main point of the story. Why did nobody act? Why did almost everyone turn a blind eye? It is because they prioritized. They took college football and our children’s safety side by side and picked the more important of the two.
For far too many, college football has become larger than life. Joe Paterno held godlike status. Police handed player discipline over to him. The man basically ran the university. This lack of perspective has proven to be the scariest monster in the scandal. As soon as anything becomes larger than life, we encounter serious problems. We follow with unquestioning faith, refusing to take a step back and see things as they really are until it is too late. Honduras and Nicaragua went to war over a soccer match in 1969. Many began having similar experiences with religion beginning in the mid-1980s.
Perspective. That small word is the key takeaway from the Penn State scandal. We must always keep it with us, hovering in the back of our minds to guide us through our daily lives. Is football intrinsically bad? Of course not. We can just never let ourselves forget what is truly important in life.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below! As always, please like, share, or reblog this post if you enjoy it. Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for new content every Wednesday!
Comment question of the week
Will Penn State ever recover from the Sandusky scandal?