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Responses to Penn State sanctions ridiculous

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JULY 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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In the wake of the Penn State sanctions, which were deemed “unprecedented” by NCAA officials, there were varied reactions.

The sanctions, handed down at a press conference held by the NCAA on Monday, include a fine, a four-year postseason ban, and wiping out all wins from 1998-2011.

Among the variety of reactions to the necessary, and relatively mild restrictions to an institution that safe-guarded rape and molestation, were disbelief and disgust.

Let us clarify: disbelief and disgust at the NCAA.

Photos of fans brought to their knees in frustration and anger, seemingly crippled by the news, appear on websites and in newspapers across the country. Facebook posts and tweets are exchanged bemoaning the NCAA for overreaching in its punishment.

To these fans we must issue a statement: Come back to reality.

This case and these sanctions are not about football. The punishment affects football, yes, but the sanctions are not about a sport at all. They are about institutional change.

This punishment is the solution to a terrible problem. A man was convicted of sexually abusing several young boys, and many others helped him — actively and passively — cover it up.

Stop caring whether the punishment will forever cripple a program that has now not officially won any games between the years of 1998 and 2011; stop caring that Joe Paterno coached any team; and stop caring about football at all.

The only aspects of this case people should be concerned with are the victims and their families — not the players and their coaches.

Tweets like “ah crap … so i lost every college football game i ever played in?” from Evan Royster, a former running back and the school’s all-time leading rusher, and “So I went 0-53 in college? My big ten championship rings say different,” from Tom Golarz, former Penn State defensive lineman, are completely misguided and borderline inappropriate.

These types of reactions are the exact reason these specific sanctions are necessary. Penn State has fostered a culture in which winning football games is more important than a criminal institution being duly punished for its crimes. The NCAA may have pulled the trigger, but it was Jerry Sandusky and many others who loaded the gun.

But it’s not about football.

These sanctions are not centered on the Penn State players (believe it or not) but about preventing future crimes. Former and current fans and players need to see beyond their winning record to the actual people affected by this scandal: the victims. To mention Big Ten championship rings and this scandal in the same statement surpasses insensitivity and materialism and goes straight to shallow vanity.

In the end it comes down to the simple question of what is more important: winning seasons or the safety of children?


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