The Punishment Squad
Under the broadest of its powers and for violations not directly related to football, the NCAA is poised to announce it's sentence on the Penn State football program.
As usual, we will be told this is "for the kids," the "victims of child abuse everywhere." What this is about is joining the mob of sanctimonious Monday morning quarterbacks who have convinced themselves of their own righteousness and purity.
If the NCAA effectively hands down a "death sentence" for the football program, the new leaders of the university will only have themselves to blame. They hired Louis Freeh and accepted his conclusion-jumping report as if it was the gospel truth. But any sentient, still thinking, reasonable person should have doubts about exactly who knew what when about Jerry Sandusky. There is a difference between knowing something to be true (Sandusky's crimes) and not doing enough to find out if it's true.
The removal of the Paterno statue is over the top. John F. Kennedy did things far worse in both his personal and professional life than Paterno ever thought of doing. We know about Kennedy now, and his penchant for using and abusing young women. Martin Luther King was serial adulterer even as he preached the Christian gospel of civil rights.
So where are the demands to take their name off federal buildings, highways and airports? They don't exist because most grown-up Americans understand that even our best and brightest are flawed. None of them are perfect and some are far from it. We still celebrate their achievements, what they stood for, and what they came to symbolize.
The effort to redefine Joe Paterno as nothing more than a vain egoist willing to see children be sexually abused to protect his own legacy as saint is - at its core - a cowardly one. In the crucible of this scandal reputations are being blithely destroyed for the mere sport of it.
Not only has Paterno not been proven guilty of his "crime," neither have Tim Curley or Gary Schultz. How crazy is it to wait for their actual trial before judging them to be guilty?
They are accused of lying to protect themselves and a child molester from "bad publicity." But the nice thing about being part of a mob is that - unlike a jury - you don't have to wait for all the evidence to be presented before coming to a conclusion. Is there anything that might be shown in a court of law that might cause anyone to doubt the guilt of these men?
The NCAA believes it has enough information to pass judgement on Penn State and to declare a fitting punishment for the tens of thousands of students, football fans, and alumni who care about this school.
But I doubt it.
UPDATE: I thought so. The NCAA has imposed a 4-year ban on bowl appearances, fined the school $60 million and stripped Joe Paterno of credit for every win since 1998. More here.
Somehow, this is supposed to be justice.