I am a sports fan. I have grown up around sports my whole life. I grew up watching the Atlanta Braves play baseball on TBS almost everyday with my dad. I grew up in Arkansas cheering for the Arkansas Razorbacks where Razorback football ruled the Arkansas world for about six months of the year. I played basketball for a little while, but baseball was my passion. I played in high school and through college.
When I entered high school, baseball was not the sport everyone filled the seats for; it was Friday night football. High school football ruled our school. I remember that football took precedent over every other sport, or at least that's what it seemed. No one could touch the football field, but the football team could conduct offseason practices on our baseball field, tearing up our outfield grass that would never fully recover in time for our season.
This week the Penn State scandal got ever worse. Jerry Sandusky has been put away for a long time and deservedly so. Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends. New evidence has arisen that shows Joe Paterno and the highest level of administration of Penn State knew about Sandusky to some degree and decided to cover it up for fear of bad publicity. I read the story on espn.com and in the story it reported that a janitor witnessed Sandusky abusing a child, but decided to keep quiet for fear of losing his job. He said that Coach Paterno had too much power and that football ruled Penn State.
This made me think about what I would do if I were in the janitor's shoes. This is a man who was probably hard working and needed the job for himself at least and perhaps a family. If you witness something that is horribly wrong, do you report it, knowing that you might lose your job in doing so? This is a matter of ethics which college football seems to shy away from. Keeping the program successful is the most important thing, but at what cost?
A code of ethics is so important to have. No job is ever worth more than someone's life and the Penn State scandal is showing that. No program should ever rule an institution like a university. There are standards that need to be adhered to and when those standards are not met, consequences need to fall upon the party or parties responsible. When my own beloved Arkansas Razorbacks faced a scandal of their own when Bobby Petrino was caught in a compromising relationship with a woman who was younger and not his wife, they took action. He was fired despite the fact that Arkansas was primed to be a national title contender this coming season. They had a code of ethics and Petrino's behavior broke that code; therefore, he faced the consequences. If only Penn State had done so many years ago.
It is a shame that this is happening to such a storied institution and is tarnishing the legacy of a storied coach. But, it shows that football does not rule this world. National championships do not come before the safety of young people. Coaches are not all powerful no matter how long they have been there. May more college programs learn from the mistakes of Penn State and put human life above football.