I've been kind of quiet the past couple of weeks --work and stuff will do that, you know-- but the past several days worth of news out of Penn State has made me want to punch a wall.
For those of you who haven't been caught up on the news (be warned, the press release from the PA State Attorney General isn't a pleasant read):PA State AG Press Release: Child sex charges filed against Jerry Sandusky; two top Penn State University officials charged with perjury & failure to report suspected child abuseTwo Penn State Administrators in Sex Abuse Scandal Resign
Part of me wants to scream at a university system that places such importance over sports --and college football/basketball in particular-- above that of the law, but most of the big time universities are chasing the almighty dollar of college football right now instead of the somewhat more important job of educating students.
You can't also watch sports in some form without thinking about the immense machine that reaches even as far back as grade school to identify, shape, and coddle gifted athletes so that they will make their handlers money when they reach the pros. I've seen grade school parents hold kids back a year --not for academics, but for sports purposes, so they will be a year older than the other kids. The pursuit of getting kids noticed so that they can get to "the next level" is almost obscene, on both the parents and coaches sides.
I watched the LSU/Alabama football game on Saturday night, and as the game went on I couldn't get the news from Penn State out of my head. Instead, I saw on display a twisted spectacle of the gladiatorial fights in the days of the Roman Empire: none of the noble savage machisimo that you get from any of those references when sports journalists make them, but rather the sight of indentured servants fighting amongst each other on a field for the benefit of the spectators. Is this so important that we break rules, ignore laws, and look the other way when children are abused?*
I suppose these are stupid questions, because we as a society vote with our money. Just look at the Minnesota Vikings (and the NFL) trying to extort public money to build a new stadium, even while Minnesota is having huge budget problems all by themselves. Here in Cincinnati, the so-called stadium deal for the Cincinnati Bengals is so one-sided that paying the cost of both their stadium and the Reds ballfield has crippled the county's budget and will do so for decades. Is there any outrage? Apparently not, because it's more important to keep a professional football team happy than it is to keep cops on the street and teachers in schools.
*I've been to college, and I know all about how some athletes get off the hook from things ranging from theft to rape.