Monday, July 23, 2012

When Did Football Become God (or My Diatribe about PSU Scandal)

Anyone who knows me well is familiar with my distaste for American football. It’s not exactly the sport itself that I loathe, but its profane power over our culture. I despise how society notoriously reveres the sport with the same devotion as religious convictions. Coaches and talented players are placed on untouchable pedestals for all to idolize.  They are society’s “heroes,” yet so often are perpetrators of criminal and distasteful acts –making more money than Nobel Peace winning scientists. So one can imagine that the Penn State scandal, involving years of an inside cover-up of unspeakable child abuse, simply reaffirmed my disdain for the sport. A lesson learned, I thought perhaps this scandal could redirect the focus back to what universities are truly for – obtaining a quality higher education.

Today, however, another demigod-like supremacy determined the fate of Penn State. The NCAA sanctioned the university with fines to the tune of $60,000,000 and placed limits on athletic participation in the collegiate realm. In addition, PSU has been denied the ability to distribute scholarships. At the time of this writing, it is unclear what kind of scholarships, but the sanctions are presumed to affect only students in the football program.

One might think I am okay with these sanctions. After all, I loathe the fact that football has become more important than education in our society. But what do these sanctions mean for current and future students of Penn State? One can speculate that 60 million dollars is enough to affect tuition rates. This alone is bad for all students, like me. But even more pervasive is that many talented future athletes may no longer afford or desire an education at Penn State. And let us be realistic for a moment. Penn State has notoriously drawn talented musicians into their University because of the infamous Blue Band. Athletic gymnasts have attended PSU because they want to cheer on the Nittany Lions teams. Some students do come to Penn State to play football. But these students are not necessarily tomorrow’s Mozart’s, Mary Lou Retton’s, or Joe Namath’s. Many are tomorrow’s scientists, writers, teachers, therapists, business leaders, and more. These current and future students are the ones who stand to lose the most. What right does the NCAA, an athletic organization, have to punish students of an entire university? Once again, sports – especially football – seem to be in complete control.  How dare an athletic organization take away opportunity for innocent students because of some very bad administration?  The students and current staff and administration of the university do not condone the behaviors of the past football administration. But we certainly are going to pay for those behaviors.

It seems more fitting that the NCAA should take over sports programs when its ethics rules are broken – not destroy programs in their entirety. This punishment is going to trickle down to everyone who attends the university. And the actual criminals, who will surely receive due punishment by the court systems, will be the least affected by the NCAA sanctions.

It seems that the NCAA’s announcements today only strengthen my disdain for organized sports. Way to go, NCAA.

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