Pennsylvania State University is reeling from a child molestation scandal, where a now-imprisoned former coach committed appalling acts that were swept under the rug. Though the actions in question were one person’s doing, the blame lays solely on the shoulders of the public.
Penn State scandal tarnishes institution of college football
College football is huge. Perhaps one of the biggest college football institutions is Pennsylvania State University, often called Penn State. The school is now scandalized, as a former coaching assistant, Jerry Sandusky, was revealed to have been molesting children while an employee of the school. Also a very highly paid employee of the school. Sandusky retired, according to CBS, making $101,787 per year. Unlike professors, who often have doctorates, coaches don’t usually publish in journals or contribute to research.
It was later found that a pattern of overlooking his conduct emerged. Some of the most heinous crimes possible for a person to commit were basically swept under the rug, as people at the supposed institution of higher education didn’t elect to immediately call the police, which should have been done without a moment’s hesitation. Some wonder who might be to blame for that. There is a simple answer: look in the mirror.
It is more than just the school administration, Joe Paterno or other individuals named in the Louis Freeh report, prepared by the former director of the FBI. A recent op-ed on Fox Sports, by columnist Dan Wolken, says football culture at Penn State is to be blamed, along with college football culture. Those things made the program larger than anything else there, but that doesn’t really go deep enough.
What happened was that the football team itself was, and still is, an institution, which is the heart of the problem.
The people involved really believed that Penn State football, as an institution, was more important to protect than Sandusky’s victims. If anyone continues to think like that about any institution, incidents like this will continue to occur. Lord knows what has been covered up at other colleges.
One should be very careful who they give power to
Any institution, no matter what it is, cannot be made to be “bigger” or more important than its constituents. If it does, it opens the door to the abuse of power and indeed to evil, because the people at the top of an institution become more important than those at the bottom. It is only by the consent of the governed that governing goes on; Moammar Gadhafi found that out the hard way. The Penn State scandal happened in the manner it did because in the minds of sports fans and Penn State students, the football program was that important. If it hadn’t, Sandusky would have been found out, exposed and jailed long ago.
When a person consents to the protection of an institution for its own sake, be it a church, a government, their family, job, whatever, it negates that institution’s accountability. The onus is on an authority, as Noam Chomsky said, to prove its worth.