I haven't written about the Penn State rapes yet. I'm not sure I will. In the meantime, I want to direct readers to the three most sensible stories I've read about the horrific Sandusky case. I was only going to cite one because it was Chicago-based and this is a Chicago site, but I don't really give a damn.
In our Bears coverage wrap-up story yesterday, I mentioned Dan Bernstein's column in which Bernstein framed the brilliant Bears win over Detroit within his outrage over Penn State. At the time of my posting, I had not yet read his even more important column from November 9 titled You Must Read The Grand Jury Report. He's right. Having read it now, painfully, slowly -- he's right. Bernstein:
Most importantly, we must stop with comfortable euphemisms that ease the pain of confronting these brutal crimes. This is not “horseplay,” or “inappropriate acts,” or even “sodomy.” It’s worse. We have a solemn responsibility to expose these infections to sunlight, trying as hard as we can to understand as much as we can.
No kidding. Seriously, if you haven't done it yet, read it now.
Okay. The other two. Over at Grantland, Charles P. Pierce penned The Brutal Truth About Penn State, a story about the absurdity of trying to use football and prayer as instant healers in the face of horrors. Pierce:
There will now be a decade or more of criminal trials, and perhaps a quarter-century or more of civil actions, as a result of what went on at Penn State. These things cannot be prayed away. Let us hear nothing about "closure" or about "moving on." And God help us, let us not hear a single mumbling word about how football can help the university "heal." (Lord, let the Alamo Bowl be an instrument of your peace.) This wound should be left open and gaping and raw until the very last of the children that Jerry Sandusky is accused of raping somehow gets whatever modicum of peace and retribution can possibly be granted to him. This wound should be left open and gaping and raw in the bright sunlight where everybody can see it, for years and years and years, until the raped children themselves decide that justice has been done. When they're done healing — if they're ever done healing — then they and their families can give Penn State permission to start.
And finally, Penn State alum Shawn Hubler at the Los Angeles Times wrote The Cult of Penn State. Hubler:
It dawned on me that Penn State had whole other facets, that maybe I had been missing out on what it really meant to be part of a university. One day, a new friend — an artistic kid whose parents lived, of all places, in California — casually questioned the community's reverence for sports, and something snapped in me. I told my parents I wouldn't be needing my season tickets. We got into a blistering argument, and I think I said something about no longer believing in "the cult of football."
Hubler's story is a firm reminder of not just the cult of Penn State, but the cult of big-money sport and institution. I was on the phone with a friend last night, and he told me (an Indiana University grad), "No offense, but I could see this happening with Indiana basketball."
I agreed. As I've recounted a few times over the past few days, it was less than a month into my college career when the school fired Bob Knight. Indiana basketball fans cared not a lick that Knight had choked one player and allegedly roughed up a non-basketball student. They only cared that their legendary coach was fired. Once the new guy, Mike Davis, proved he could win, they stopped mourning Knight.
There is certainly no comparing Knight's actions to that of Sandusky or, especially, Paterno. But had Knight been fired in September of 2000 because one of his assistants had been raping children, would IU sports fans have cared? Would they have turned their backs on Knight, the program, and the school? Or would they have rioted and protested just as they did?
I tend to think they would have reacted just as they did, just as the Penn State students did. Make no mistake: this could have happened at any number of America's big-time collegiate athletic institutions. Indiana, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, USC, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Miami, Alabama, Auburn. If you attended a BCS school, think about that for a moment. After all, We Are Penn State.
***UPDATE, 4 P.M.***
Another good read on the PSR, this one from Chicago's Ben Joravsky: Frank Serpico Goes to Penn State.