Sometimes I feel compelled to write about the non-joyful events in our world. Today is one of those times. Today I want to write a few words about the events at Penn State. Events that are casting a pall over what is usually an enjoyable pastime for me, watching College Football.
The scandal at Penn State reminds me of the Lawrence Phillips debacle at the University of Nebraska back in the mid-nineties. Mr. Phillips beat his former girlfriend almost to death, then grabbed her by the hair, and dragged her down the stairs of her dormitory. The young woman, Kate McEwen, who was attending UNL on an athletic scholarship to the women's basketball team, was injured so badly she could no longer participate in her sport.
Back during those days, my voice was one of the many that was raised insisting that Tom Osborne, then head coach at University of Nebraska at Lincoln, resign or be fired from his position. Time has softened some, but not all of my outrage. In addition, the University initially showed a lack of sensitivity when it revoked Ms. McEwen's scholarship. After some public outcry, that decision was reversed, allowing her to continue her education.
Phillips has proved his lack of character, and is now serving a 31 year prison sentence for attacking another girlfriend and driving his car into a group of teenagers. Tom Osborne, who gave Phillips the benefit of doubt and tried to support him by suspending him for a few games, and sending him to counseling, is now the Athletic Director at Nebraska. His job, at the time, was to serve as a surrogate father to his players, as well as Coach, and I now believe his heart was In the right place, even if his judgment was less than sound.
I like to watch College Football. I really like to watch Nebraska Football. Disclaimer: I wasn't always a football fan, but I was converted by the manly spouse, with whom I learned to enjoy watching Nebraska Football so much, that I now watch it happily, sometimes all by myself.
It is a fact that football programs bring in substantial sums of money to Universities. Money that presumably contributes to academic, as well as athletic programs. I find it sad, and infuriatingly discouraging, that this apparently causes some people to think twice before reporting horrific crimes against children, or expelling star football players who commit horrific crimes against women.
Joe Paterno may have been thinking about the consequences to his football program, rather than the consequences to young lives when he showed such poor judgement back in 1999. The sad but appropriate fact is that he will now be remembered for this, overshadowing 45 years of excellence.
Lawrence Phillips may be no more than a blip on the screen these days. He is a footnote, a vague recollection to most of us. Although probably not to Kate McEwen.
Former coach Sandusky will undoubtedly answer to the law, and will be sent away to a place where he can no longer hurt little children. He will live In his private hell and we will forget about him. The young men who were his victims may find it hard to forget. Their mothers and fathers whose trust he betrayed will never forget.
- ► 2012 (14)