Penn State LessonsJuly 12, 2012
Listening to the Freeh Report news conference is sickening. We can only hope that it sends a chill through every university and high school. One of the many lessons is that athletic success should never come at the expense of human dignity. A winning athletic program should never be a higher priority than the safety and welfare of people, no matter how old or who they are.
We are all capable of doing stupid things and then trying to cover them up. Still, it is hard to believe that four leaders of a major university all sought to brush aside the brutal raping of young boys on university property.
We need leaders of courage. University presidents. High school principals. Members of university and high school boards. Athletic directors and head coaches at every level. People willing to do the right thing even if it hurts. We thought Joe Paterno was one such man. It is never pleasant to say this about a dead man who can’t defend himself but the overwhelming amount of evidence says otherwise. He wanted to win just as bad as the “recruiting cheaters” he despised. What’s worse? Giving a needy recruit cash or allowing a powerful assistant to rape boys? Neither is right but the goal is the same—keep the machine going. Keep winning games and keep the cash donations flowing in. At least the needy kid isn’t physically abused and scarred for life.
The next time a powerful high school or college coach acts like his or her program is bigger than the school, they should be forced to read the Freeh Report. I’m not saying there are other monsters out there like Sandusky, but how many crimes of players and coaches have been swept under the rug because “the program is important and it wins.” Yes, money talks and winning means booster donations. But at what cost? No amount of money is worth the stolen innocence of those young boys. Ruined lives and pain for generations. But the team won on Saturday. It truly does make you sick.