Penn State and the Rebirth of Culture
Chapter 5 of the book Game Over by Dave Zirin is about ethics and how they come into play when confronted with a life altering decision. Joe Paterno was the face of Penn State; he rallied the community around the football team and made it the focal point of the city. Unfortunately he will be remembered more for what he failed to do instead of his success on the field and with the public. Paterno learned about his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s disgusting activities and did the legal minimum to act against him. Sandusky molested multiple children during the time that he was at Penn State working as an assistant and a camp leader. Paterno found out about these activities through one of his assistants, and instead of speaking out and seeking the authorities he merely passed on the message to his superiors. Zirin speculates that Paterno kept his mouth shut in order to preserve the legacy that is Penn State; he did not want to injure the prestige of his beloved school.
Even though JoePa did nothing illegal, his behaviour was downright immoral. The fact that he never reported Sandusky makes me feel sick. Especially when you consider that he was seen in the public eye as an honorable man, one with great morals, and someone who understood the value ethics.
The thing that jarred me about this reading was the way that the NCAA punished this football club. Zirin believes that they were penalized harshly; I believe they were penalized harshly but not properly. Though there is absolutely no excuse for the actions that took place, I believe that this team should have been penalized in a different manner. The NCAA vacated all the wins obtained by the football team from 1998 to 2011, fined the team 60 million dollars and banned the team from playoffs for the next four years.
Taking away all wins that the Nittany Lions recorded during these seasons is absolutely ridiculous. They are punishing the wrong people, the players that competed for these teams worked hard day in and day out to achieve these results and now they’re being stripped away. They were not involved in the scandal and it had no impact on their ability to win games. Paterno did a terrible thing but to erase history is absurd. Look at Major League Baseball, players were involved in illegal activities that clearly changed the outcome of games but their records and wins still stand. These players have been found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs, but it’s not like the MLB erased the whole steroid era.
Everyone involved in the scandal in any possibly way should have been punished; this means everyone from the Board of Directors to the volunteer workers. All employees should be reprimanded in every way possible; they should be banned from working or participating in any NCAA activities and affairs. The football program and the school should have been fined even more for their negligence; they allowed this to happen right up under their nose. 60 million is a massive number but I believe it should have been much more. The amount of profit the team is expected to earn in a year is 60 million; clearly the team won’t go bankrupt from this fine. I believe if the NCAA wanted to truly rebirth the culture they would have penalized the team an additional 10% of their total revenue for the next 20 years and then donated these funds to sexual abuse charities. This way the club would feel the sting of this dark spot in history for years to come and be consistently reminded of their negligence. It would set an example for future teams not to contain scandals within their organization, to report actions immediately to the authorities, and to operate with moral standards. The bottom line is that clearly the Nittany Lions were punished severely but not correctly.
Zirin, D. (2013). Game Over: How Politics Has Turned The Sports World Upside Dow. New York, United States of America: The New Press