The End of Penn State Football

Penn State football must die.

It hurts to write those words. One of my best friends is a passionate PSU alum. The Sandusky scandal crushed him, as it crushed so many who love the school. My friend is one of those innocents, along with trainers, students, and ticket-takers who will be hurt if Penn State football is shut down.

I don't care. Shut it down. The statue of Paterno should be torn to scrap and melted. Every football field on campus ripped up and the earth salted. The kids who are there now can finish school or transfer. As for the students who'll miss those great college football afternoons, tough.

Otherwise, it'll happen again.

Maybe not at that school. And maybe next time it won't be child molesters. Maybe at the next school it will be a coach selling HGH, or addicted to cocaine, or running a prostitution ring out of his office. Whatever. It'll be something bad, because we're sending the wrong message. Basically, we're sending no message at all. Society doesn't punish wrongdoing merely to exact justice. Punishment, whether jail time, fines or dismantling a poisonous institution is meant to be a deterrence against future sins.

You know what caused SMU football get their "death penalty"—which, by the way, meant a whole two years without football? SMU gave cash to players, between $50 and $300 per month. Would anyone really claim that giving a 19-year-old linebacker a few bucks for shoes and pizza is worse than what Paterno enabled? Or maybe the argument is that this scandal isn't a "football problem," so the football program shouldn't be punished. Please. Do you think a coach of any other sport, like, say swimming or track, could have gotten away with what Sandusky did for so long? How about an English teacher?

No, this isn't about the game of football. But it's all about the business that football has become. Sure, Sandusky is heading for jail. Paterno is dead, but the sick culture of denial he built at Penn State lives on; as evidenced by the channel-changing on campus Patrick cited.

Make no mistake, gentlemen. Sandusky's buddies at Penn State weren't covering up his sickness out of anything so noble as loyalty. They certainly weren't protecting the university's image. Paterno, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz were protecting themselves. This was sheer vanity and greed, with big dollop of denial to make it go down smooth. These men were protecting their own power. It's our right as a society to destroy the source of that power. We owe to the past, and we'd better do it for the future.


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