Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where the ESPYs were cancelled years ago.
The big sports-related story today, of course, is the announcement of the report detailing the results of Louis Freeh’s (and team’s) investigation into the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. I’ve blogged on this before, so I’ll suffice it to say for now that once again today I’m absolutely sick at what happened. I hope that proper respect and restitution is paid to the victims, and I hope that those who are guilty pay the appropriate price for their dastardly deeds. I think Christine Brennan of USA Today makes a pretty good statement here too…
Today, I’d like to focus on one (and perhaps under-reported, if that’s possible) angle of all this: sanctions on the football team itself. The question has come up whether or not the NCAA or another governing body will impose any sanctions on the football program for the misdeeds of administrators and Paterno. I’ve heard it argued both ways…but most of the talking heads right now don’t seem to want current program members to pay for the mistakes of those before them. An interesting take, considering all that’s at stake here.
Personally, and with my PR hat on, I don’t think the NCAA, the Big Ten Conference and anyone else with a pulse has a choice: they have to punish Penn State, and come down hard. The University, AND the football program. Think of it from a public perception; unless you’re an alum, or a former PSU player, or someone with direct ties to the program, you identify most with the organization responsible for this scandal through its appearance on the field on fall Saturdays. To the average Joe (no pun intended), to recruits and to the broader community, that IS Penn State football. So, if no punishment is imposed that affected the program on the field, the average participant might not think anything happened at all. Which, of course, isn’t even on the same planet of relevance…considering this is the most significant sports scandal of our time, and maybe any time.
So, what type of punishment is appropriate? Obviously, punishment should be commensurate with the crime…and programs have been given the death penalty for less. I’ll leave it to others to make this decision, but I think it would be well within the means of the NCAA and the Big Ten to shut down PSU football for a year or more until things get sorted out, the program and culture change, etc. It would be an incredibly drastic step, one I’m not sure they have the cajones to take given the significance (and revenue-ability) of PSU football.
It’s unfortunate that innocent players, coaches, gameday staff and the like would have to pay for the mistakes of others, sure. But let’s keep this in perspective, people…innocent people already have paid for mistakes. Kids were raped. By people who they trusted to keep them safe. The abuse was covered up. More kids were molested after the cover-up occurred, according to today’s report…which means that at least one if not several rapes should have been prevented. This is as low as it gets, and it just so happens that it’s tied into Penn State and its football program. The real victims here are the kids and their families, and to suggest anything else just seems to me to be out of whack.
That’s all for now. I’m out like the American League.