Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Punishing Innocent People?

I've not said anything here--or anywhere for that matter--about the Penn State situation, but I'm kinda ticked off.  Yesterday the NCAA handed down its sanctions on Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky situation.  $60 million fine, loss of scholarships, no bowl games for four years, and share in the conference's bowl games revenues, and wiping from the record all football results from 1998--when officials first learned of Sandusky's serial raping of children--to 2011, when the s*** hit the fan.  The football program is crippled; it will probably take ten years to return to being a competitive program.

And now there are not a few people out there saying the NCAA went too far, that the punishments hurt players, students, and alumni who had nothing to with Sandusky.  That the NCAA is punishing innocent people.

Let's get something straight: we are talking about child rape, and football.  The only victims are the children who were raped and their families.  In the face of what happened to them, it's ridiculous to talk about losing football stats, scholarships, and games as a punishment to anyone.  I don't care how big football is, it's a game.  A child can perhaps be punished by making them miss playing a game, but no adult should consider that a punishment.  It's a disappointment, it's an inconvenience, but it's not a punishment.

We're talking about football. We are talking about a game. So what if current players won't get to play for a national championship? That makes them no different than a player at a non-BCS conference like Boise State. Deal with it. Children were raped. Shut up about how unfair it is that for current players and students. Either stay and get a degree from what is still an academically great university, or transfer somewhere else. 
Some people are cheering the NCAA for their toughness, but I think Mike Wise in an excellent article in today's Washington Post got it right--the NCAA is actually sending the wrong message. SMU gets their football program suspended for two years for grade-fixing and payments to players, and Penn State doesn't for turning it's back on children and then covering up child rape? What message does that send? That trying to gain a recruiting edge in football is more heinous than raping a child and covering up the crime? That's exactly the message, as well as that you will be treated differently if you are a major university with a long history of football greatness and multiple championships than if you are an upstart like SMU--or Boise St., or TCU or anyone else without such a pedigree. 
We are talking about the rape of children. That's all we should be talking about. Football is nothing compared to that, and if we've lost that perspective, then perhaps we all need to take a break from following college and professional sports.

And unless anyone is inclined to say that I would feel any different if it were my school, let me make this clear: I have enjoyed the unprecedented (for them) success that Baylor has had in NCAA basketball (both men's and women's) and football the last couple of years, and I am excited that Baylor's RG3 is a Redskin.  Last week I received the Baylor alumni magazine that touted Baylor's athletic success, and was disturbed to read that Baylor just received a gift from an alumnus that would be the largest the university has ever received, and two others that would place in the top five ever received--all to build a new football stadium on campus.  Really?  Baylor has a top law school, a top medical school, a top seminary, and many other academic programs that could probably use more money to educate students who will make a real impact on the world, and the top gifts ever received were given for a football stadium?

I hope Baylor's athletic success doesn't create the type of culture that led to the monstrous situation at Penn State.  But once you start feeding the monster...

No comments:

Post a Comment