A lot of people have asked me lately to write about the Penn State scandal. I told them it wasn’t my place.
They asked me how I could possibly run a sports website without talking about one of the biggest cover-ups in sports history. I told them I didn’t feel I could present anything more profound or meaningful than has already been written. Wordslike tragedy, travesty, horrific and disappointing have already been used… and rightfully so.
I’ve actually tried to pay as little attention to the situation as possible. I haven’t read any of the testimonials nor do I plan to, however, turning a blind eye to the events that occurred at State College has become difficult considering names like Sandusky, Paterno and McQueary have taken over the airwaves ever since the story broke.
The accusations against Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine only made Sportscenter more unwatchable.
As sordid details continued to come to light, I repeatedly asked myself how I’d feel if something like that happened at my alma mater. But despite its recently, decorated trophy cases, the University of Florida doesn’t have quite the tradition of Penn State football, or at least doesn’t share the same, iconic head coach. Few institutions do.
That’s really what made the story so shocking. Had the same (alleged) incidents happened at a smaller school, under any other coach’s watch, it still would have been a tragedy, but not on such a scale.
As the news broke of the Penn State allegations, further irony came when Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski became the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history. Only a week before, we were celebrating Joe Paterno for the very same reason.
Suddenly, wins and losses found their proper perspective.
Whatever happened on those campuses happened and it’s a shame that it did. The optimist in me can only have faith that justice will be served. It’s all we can hope for at this point. It’s just unfortunate that it came at such a price.
This isn’t the Boston Red Sox drinking beer in the clubhouse. This isn’t Ron Artest charging into the stands to beat up a fan who tossed a beverage his way. This isn’t James Harrison knocking an opponent out cold or Rex Ryan giving some heckling fan the finger.
This is a loss of innocence at the hands of a few, disturbed individuals who used their positions of power to feed their own sickness.
The Sandusky scandal, and the inability of those close to the situation to do anything about it, has to be the most disheartening set of events to ever disgrace a football program. The Fine situation isn’t far behind. Coach Krzyzewski’s accomplishments only temporarily took our minds off the scandals that took place at similarly successful programs only a few states away.
Despite the billions of dollars surrounding college athletics, coaching is not about wins and losses. Coaching is, and has always been, about building men and women out of boys and girls. Somewhere along the line, Coaches Sandusky and Fine forgot about that, or maybe they never knew.
Either way, it will take a lot more than just wins before we’re ever able to forget the unforgiveable losses.