What happened at Penn State was sickening, repulsive, deplorable beyond reasonable means and heart breaking. And it could happen anywhere.
The Freeh Report concluded that Penn State’s football culture was ultimately the enabler of a child predator, Jerry Sandusky. According to the report and its findings, the desire to keep the Penn State football brand, as well as the university’s pristine image, proved to be the motivating factor in determining how to handle allegations that Sandusky was abusing young boys on campus grounds and close to the football program when on the road.
The harsh reality is that Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Joe Paterno all would have been revered and recognized as heroes had they not conspired to protect Sandusky the way the Freeh Report suggests. So what if Sandusky had served as a loyal member of the university and football program for decades? He fooled everyone. There is no shame in that, if the right decisions were made when called for.
Those in charge may have thought they were serving the greater good because ultimately a number of good deeds were made possible because of the success of the football program and the financial stability created through it. Without football Penn State would not be as big as it is in academics, research and more important real-life standings outside of football. The decisions made were made to preserve all of the good things Penn State was capable of doing, but they failed to protect children which clearly becomes more important than anything else.
As a result, Penn State has become the new textbook example of how football culture can cloud judgment in times of distress. But Penn State is not the only school and community to live in a football culture that can often shield from negative vibes. We have seen it elsewhere on varying degrees.
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