What went down at Penn State was the college football story of the year in 2011-12. Actually, it’s the most important sports story of the 2010s thus far. The Penn State child rape scandal is so much more than just a scandal and a cover-up; it’s all encompassing. And today, I find it bizarre that it gets as little news attention as it does. Because it's still ongoing.
I dropped everything when I heard Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz had turned themselves in. I knew this was big, so I made sure to quickly write up my post and send it ASAP to Yardbarker, a subsidiary of Fox Sports. They promoted it instantly. So in the network of sports blogs affiliated with Fox Sports/Yardbarker, and there are hundreds of them, I was the first to break the Penn State scandal story. Which was important, but yes I know that and $2.75 will get you a slice of pizza. I knew the story mattered, but I had NO IDEA that this was just the start of the biggest story of this decade.
From the press box that day I watched Badgers QB Russell Wilson dominate the Boilers on his way towards setting the single season record for passer rating. His backfield mate Montee Ball also had the best statistical season ever at his position, tying the rushing touchdowns record during the Rose Bowl. Record numbers and Rose Bowls are big; but they’re very insignificant minutia compared to the horrific crimes of child rape that occurred at Penn State. And with every disgusting horrible injustice comes the equally stomach churning cover-up. And PSU was as sordid and immoral as it gets regarding both the original crime and the adjoining cover-up.
We cannot forget that.
Yes, there was a giant media crush through November and December that year. Sarah Ganim, of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, got a Pulitzer and a new gig at CNN for her reporting work. She also got her fair share of death threats. There was indeed some great reporting done that fall/winter.
And then there was the Big Ten Network.
I, along with many others, ripped the Big Ten Network over their lack of Penn State scandal coverage. And deservedly so. It was truly the darkest hour of BTN. However, the Big Ten Network did admit that they are a broadcasting agency, not a news service.
Seems subtle, but the difference matters greatly. Especially today when the lines are more blurred than ever. A lot of broadcasters are not reporters, they’re entertainers. (Or in the case of CSN Chicago and the Hawks, cheerleaders) I’d even go so far as to say that any broadcast reporter who works for a network owned by a league is not a reporter at all. Same logic applies when that reporter works for a network that has a broadcasting deal with a team. Too many conflicts of interest stand in the way of doing true, unbiased reporting.
Where was Big Ten Network when: Joe Paterno was fired? The kids at Penn State rioted in response? When Jerry Sandusky was arrested/arraigned/sentenced? When Mike McQueary blew the whistle? When the Freeh Report was released?
NOWHERE. They were silent at every instance.
They only covered the Big Ten sanctions and the NCAA sanctions handed down in State College. But as BTN didn’t cover Jerry Sandusky or Joe Paterno at all, WSCR midday show Boers and Bernstein did and does. They are relentless and thorough. Justifiably so.
The two 670 The Score co-hosts do such a great job covering Penn State that they elicited this hilarious parody song from “Matt in Champaign.” (Extra special thanks to 670 The Score Associate Producer for Boers and Bernstein Chris Tannehill)
To me, the idea of this song itself is hilarious (and the seriousness of this post requires a little comic relief): using the Penn State fight song as a tribute to Boers and Bernstein, who do the best local reporting out there on Happy Valley? Priceless. (shout outs to The Score’s Joe Ostrowski, Herb Lawrence and Brett Lyons too for helping me track this down.)
Sadly, the media in general have today eased off Penn State, and are largely ignoring the story. Which makes the work Boers and Bernstein do on PSU more important than ever. And be sure to read the CBS Chicago columns of Dan Bernstein as well.
Here’s an excerpt of what he wrote June 8th:
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett reacted to his crumbling political standing by filing a frivolous federal lawsuit against the NCAA sanctions, attempting an inane argument on antitrust grounds that was tossed out of court Thursday for lacking legal reason. And he himself is under official review for his decision to stall the investigation of claims against Sandusky in 2009 when he was Attorney General, conveniently avoiding any mess as he ran for governor. It looks like he is going to lose, this time around.
And a paragraph later:
Paterno’s desperate family and friends will not stop crying, either, showing no desire to let the wounds to their close community heal. Their ongoing propaganda campaign has yet to find traction outside of the insular environment in which they have always existed, instead revealing the effort as self-serving, unsuccessful scab-picking.
They too filed an absurd, egotistical lawsuit, one that will likely meet some similar fate as Corbett’s pointless gambit.
Keep looking at us! Keep looking at this! Look closer!
Ok. Ick. Still.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. (“Quasi-endorsed” by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly) He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.