This week, many have compared the Penn State scandal to that of the Catholic Church or other major scandals that have put the institution’s future and standing ahead of the law and morality. Thanks to his longevity and records at Penn State, Joe Paterno was hailed as a god, but in the wake of the grand jury’s report that Paterno knew about the abuse that Jerry Sandusky was perpetrating on young children, some have labeled Paterno a “false god.” It’s led some to reconsider how we view college football powerhouses and the leaders running the programs. Here’s a roundup of how sports columnists this weekend have responded, urging people to see their college football gods in a different light:
Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Nice job of protecting the institution, guys. None of this, of course, holds a candle to the damage done to the child victims. Not a single adult apprised of this revolting situation sought to find out exactly what happened to them, or protect them, or even find out who they were. Didn’t any warning bells go off in Penn State’s halls of power as the Catholic clergy’s child abuse scandal spread like fire? Did no one see any parallels?
Mike Missanelli, Philadelphia Inquirer:
The fact that he didn’t announce his resignation on Wednesday afternoon, before the Penn State board had to do its dirty work and fire him that night, was Paterno’s final selfish act. The board’s announcement sparked among students a mini-riot. It was appalling that Paterno had the audacity to revel in a pep rally (the “We are … Penn State” thing again) in front of his home, organized by students not yet wise enough to know any better. Penn State’s utopian tried to fool us until not one man was left standing.
Roy Peter Clark, CNN:
Commentators on sports television and radio have raised their sanctimonious voices to instruct us that this scandal is “not about football.” That’s like saying the sexual abuse of altar boys is “not about religion.” The scandal at Penn State turns out to be — as it always is — more about the cover-up than the original crimes. The cover-up didn’t work for Nixon, or Cardinal Law in Boston, or for Joseph Vincent Paterno. If JoePa has been the pope of the Church of College Football, he turned the rest of us into acolytes. How many of us learned to bow down and obey, leaving our skepticism outside the church door?