Cancel Rest of the Season, Penn State

by journojames on March 19, 2012

Originally published Nov. 11, 2011

Forget about a moment of silence at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. There should be nothing but absolute silence there for the rest of the 2011 football season.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium, Photo courtesy of Mediaite

In light of the recent allegations involving the school, Penn State should cancel this week’s game against Nebraska. They should forfeit. The school has more important things to deal with than football right now. The school’s main focus should be on properly dealing with the horrifying scandal it finds itself entangled in: the alleged raping of a ten-year old boy on its campus. Nothing should be more important than dealing with this unspeakable crime. How silly and trivial a football game is right now; how grotesque cheering of any kind would be on Saturday.

It was learned this week through grand jury testimony that former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of felony sex abuse against minors over a 15-year period. Sandusky retired in 1999. He served more than 20 years as a well-respected defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions. He remained coach emeritus with an office in, and access to, Penn State’s football facilities. It was revealed this week that some of the alleged molestation occurred at Penn State and those who could’ve and should’ve informed the proper authorities did little in reporting it. This was a catastrophic failure on all levels by men who knew better.

This scandal is a major criminal case, which means that the NCAA doesn’t have the jurisdiction to punish Penn State’s football program. Isn’t it absolutely absurd that the NCAA, a holier-than-thou governing body that seems to relish in using the “lack of institutional control” charge when punishing schools, is completely powerless to do anything in this case, which reeks of that very definition? So, since the farcical NCAA governing body can’t do anything about this, it’s up to Penn State to take some tough but proper actions against itself, beginning with canceling Saturday’s game.

The Nittany Lions should forfeit, Photo courtesy of collegebound

Penn State must make it clear that what allegedly happened is utterly and completely intolerable. The school, by canceling the game Saturday, would finally be saying that football is not as important as the safety and welfare of a child. Penn State is one of the nation’s most tradition-rich and storied football programs. The Nittany Lions in its history have played in 43 bowl games, have produced 39 consensus All-Americans, completed seven undefeated seasons and have won two national championships in 1982 and 1986. This year, the team has an 8-1 record and is ranked No. 12 in the nation. The canceling of Saturday’s game would be a powerful statement for a school that seems to be so defined by its nationally recognized football program.

Many will be angry. Hundreds of thousands of people, alums and fans alike, will scream that the canceling of Saturday’s game would be unfair, especially to the football players who had nothing to with the scandal. It would be unfair, but life is unfair. And, in this case, the feelings of the athletes and fans should be a secondary concern. Others will claim that playing the game would help the healing process. Nonsense. Healing? It would come across more like forgetting. Instead, the school must make a sacrifice of what is so near and dear to them if it is to meet this ugly scandal head-on. Otherwise, playing the game would only show that football is still the main focus of everything at Penn State. The school should just write Nebraska a check to make up for the lost revenue in their forfeit and be done with it, so they can concentrate on what really matters, the victims. This terrible situation is truly big enough to cause everyone, even the completely innocent, some pain.

Legendary coach Joe Paterno underfire, Photo courtesy of AP

More dark days are sure to come for Penn State. There will be more disciplinary action. There will be an onslaught of lawsuits. There could possibly be more charges. And more victims will most likely come forward. Right now, there’s no point of having a football game. Who really cares when children were allegedly raped and assaulted while important people knew? Cancel the game, Penn State. People may not like it, but they’ll respect it. Joe Paterno, before he was recently fired as head coach of the team, said that he wished he had done more about the situation. Take his advice, Penn State, and please do more.

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