WHY Are They Still Playing?

[Note: this post is flat-out inflammatory. Nobody’s forcing you to read it. If you get upset by inflammatory writing or just looove that Nittany blue,” it’s probably best you move to the other posts. Also, please answer the one-question “poll” at the bottom. Once the numbers hit 50, I’ll act accordingly. Really. I won’t be offended. This is just something I had to post, even if temporarily.]

The following quote comes from a VIDEO you should watch when only you’re prepared to do so. If it doesn’t infuriate you, check yourself.

“We failed in our obligation to provide proper oversight,” trustee Ken Frazier told reporters. “We are accountable for what’s happened here.”

[You’re accountable? Fine. I’ll come visit you in prison, Ken. I really will.]

My last post discussed teachers unions and how they have marginalized themselves in the political world. Unions are more than important–they are NECESSARY. Not always in terms of salaries or health insurance. Rather, unions protect people. Unions give voice to the powerless. The National Education Association, for all it’s bungles, saved my wife’s life. I will die pro-union. Today, I bring an example of what happens when nobody stands up for the least powerful in our world–children. Here goes, starting with a bang.

Penn State is now the worst institution of higher learning in Pennsylvania. It may be the worst in the United States, for that matter. What school could be doing something worse for this long? One line of evidence after another shows this team, this athletic program, this administration, these trustees repeatedly chose to AVOID contacting Child Protective Services about Jerry Sandusky and his pedophilia problem. Now, it comes to the phrase, “self-preservation” on the talk shows [4:55 in interview]. We see myriad PSU representatives who had plenty of opportunity to stop this…and chose a football team over human rights.

Not only do Jerry Sandusky’s victims need help, Jerry needed help. I don’t know what made Mr. Sandusky this way, but it isn’t a random thing. People are reactive beings. Nobody has found a “sexual predator gene” that I know of, though some make wild conclusions. The fact is, something happened to Jerry, and now, he will have to/get to deal with it. My prayers follow him. Regularly. Really.

But that’s why there are supposed to be checks and balances in a system, like a Head Coach, or a Campus Police Department or a President or a board member. It would have taken one well-placed phone call from any of these people to stop this. There are also oversight agencies, like the Big Ten, the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Education. Football aside, if this happens ANYWHERE on a campus and gets covered up, it’s time to drop a heavy hammer. Maybe a school re-staffs a music department where the Band Director has an affair with a 3rd clarinet player [note absence of link here–let me know if you want names]. Maybe a school has to kill off a foreign language program because of a similar scandal during a summer camp [hypothetical]. It doesn’t matter the area. If a school insists on continuing that program without major changes, it shows a lack of commitment and understanding of the severity of this issue. Penn State, itself, needs to come into question.

I want you to compare two covers, coming from a blog about Sports Illustrated. One regards what has become known as “Tatoo-gate” at Ohio State. Players exchanged signed Buckeye memorabilia for cash and tattoos at a Columbus tattoo parlor. The coach was fired, OSU is being sanctioned. SI shows where the blame belongs in their cover, no question. MEANWHILE, the whole “raping kids” thing results in “Poor Joe Pa” walking across with his weary head hanging. Tressel looks like a Nazi war criminal. Paterno? Poor guy…


Christian Hackenberg, perhaps the top high school quarterback recruit this year, has committed to Penn State. He’s 18. Already, I don’t trust him, and I certainly don’t trust his parents or his football coach or the military school that young man comes from. He had many, many choices–and he chose to support…this.

Any ticket holder, recruit, t-shirt buyer, or supporter of that team is complicit now. Don’t tell me otherwise. There are 150 Division I-A (BCS, whatever) schools to choose from as a player, a supporter, or a fan. I would have NO trouble walking away from ANY of my related institutions, including my current employer, if this were the case on one of those campuses. This is true of one of my favorite bars in Austin, Mr. Tramp’s. They are the PSU fan club headquarters. I’ll miss catching soccer games there. I’ll really miss watching my son in FIFA 13 video game tournaments there.

Sound harsh? I’ll give you harsh. Get “molested” in a shower by an old guy while another coach watches. THAT’S harsh. It’s so harsh that we create terms like molestrape, and sexual abuse for what really happens because they are less offensive to people.

Victims become abusers, and that pain never goes away. Would you want to live next door to one of these kids when they become an adult? Want him to watch your 10-year-old while you and your spouse head to the Hamptons for a weekend? If not, then it stands that a school creating these victims (and future perpetrators) needs to be reworked, relocated, restructured, or just plain razed. Perhaps they should change the school’s motto from “Making Life Better” to…[No. I won’t finish this sentence. I want to, though. I really, really want to finish this sentence.]

In an age where Liberal Arts Colleges are struggling, Pennsylvania State University serves as a reminder that bigger is NOT necessarily better. That doesn’t just mean the football program. It means the institution, itself.

It’s a nasty set of things to say, but I don’t have trouble saying these things. I also stand behind them. There’s no excuse for keeping that football program. The fact that it remains today indicates that PSU, its fans, and its support base don’t really care about what happened, and from here on out, ANY support of that team shows support for the atrocities that happened. Somebody who can make them care should do so, and put the safety of children ahead of sport, institutional pride, and any embarrassment.

I’m waiting. Of course, I’ve been waiting.

About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.

Aside | This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to WHY Are They Still Playing?

  1. christie says:

    go for what you think is right!!!!!!!!

  2. Brian says:

    By the way, Paul, please note the penalty handed to Cal Tech (recently chronicled in the NY Times). I don’t know if you’ll laugh or cry.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I fully agree with the part of this post that deals with the Penn State issue. But could you please explain the opening paragraph. Because I have serious reservations about the statements made there. Thanks.

  4. Frank Latella says:

    Yes accountability is needed. What you do not explore is the scope and depth of a head coaches responsibility given in part as a condition of the job and in part a conscious decision by coaches to accept the consequences of this kind of responsibility . I make no case for excuses here just saying the difference in portraits by the media can be explained. If you see a doctor you expect them to “know”. You would be foolish to think they know everything they need to know about you and your medications or conditions. These head coaches are being asked to “know” .

  5. Thank you for reading, Frank! Not every coach knows everything. My mentor during my doctorate once told me a scary thing: my physician doesn’t know much more about medicine than I know about music education. That does scare me, because my Ph. D. taught me as much what I don’t know as it did new things. This coach “knew.” It turns out the evidence is there. It turns out a lot of other people up the chain of command “knew,” as well. If punishment ever comes about, then everyone who knew should be culpable and accountable. My guess is that won’t happen. On the other hand, you can be the athletic director at Cal-Tech and be sitting on your couch this morning asking the dog what just happened!

  6. Ugh–it’s unreal! It shows how ridiculous the NCAA is in both their handling of different cases and the “lack of internal control” regarding the timing of their announcement. At some point, one has to begin considering the entire college athletics structure.

    “You just can’t make up a coincidence like this.”

    Good first line.

    Thanks for reading my blog, Brian!

  7. Thanks for reading the blog! I appreciate your time.

    If you mean the “disclaimer,” it’s because I’m trying not to get fired for writing something negative. 🙂

    If the discussion is about unions and their necessity, then there are other entries that touch on this. One is called “Slap Butt Friday.” Another short one was written on Labor Day. In short, (forgive the Christian/religious/spiritual speak, please) we need to love God and love people. Two rules. A problem we have in this world is that we expect everybody to be reasonable. We aren’t. We all fall short.

    Unions are often the only way that, say, a teacher with black mold in her classroom can actually change classrooms. My wife had three choices: quit (lose certificate, end career), die, or ask the union to intervene. She had all documentation intact, but there “wasn’t any place to put her.” The union showed up at a Monday school board meeting. On Tuesday, they were moving her to safety. I’m telling you the truth on that one: she’d likely be dead now without that one teacher’s union representative at that board meeting.

    That’s not the “union” that people see on TV, though. Unions (like governments, churches, girl scout troops) are human institutions, and they are riddled with the problems that come from unreasonable people looking for more power. That version was described (in part) in the post just previous to the one you read…and I really do appreciate you reading it, as well as your comment. Thanks!

  8. Great, passionate post, Paul.
    What are the odds of a Penn State death penalty?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s