As an alumni, I've patiently waited to comment on the recent penalties levied against the PSU football program by the NCAA. While some members of the media and public have rushed to judgment and applauded these penalties, I would like to try to put this in perspective. With sports, and football in particular, we tend to react with emotions rather than logic. So, bear with me as I offer up this scenario.
PepsiCo is a massive corporation with subsidiary companies. One subsidiary is Frito Lay, which produces Doritos, Fritos, and a variety of other products. Let's say that a member of the Frito Lay Board of Directors conspired with two or three PepsiCo executives to cover up a series of rapes. The information gets out and the government gets involved. The public outrage is unprecedented.
Now, let's say the government decides to punish PepsiCo and its subsidiary. Rather than conduct its own inquiry, the government decides to use PepsiCo's own internal investigation. Then, the government levies the following penalties against the companies:
$60 million in fines, which will cause layoffs and cuts in employee benefits
10 US factories closed for 4 years, devastating local economies
Hundreds of workers told the can stay under these conditions, or can start over somewhere else, having been tainted by scandal.
The workers are told they have been part of a culture of silence, although they new NOTHING of the conspiracy.
Workers will receive no bonuses for at least 4 years
What would the public response be to that? Is this the reciprocity we require as a society? Should thousands be harmed because of the acts of a few?
My guess is there would be public outrage directed at the government for over-reaching and being short-sighted. People would scream that the government was hurting the wrong people and playing to the media.
This is what has happened at PSU. Not one current player had anything to do with this. Not one local business owner conspired to shelter a criminal. This is how skewed our definition of justice becomes when sports are involved. And the current PSU administration has not helped one bit. When the interim president announces that academics had taken a backseat to football, despite PSU being THE standard for excellence in creating student athletes, the reaction of the administration is obviously a poor one. Aside from that, academic performance of student athletes had NOTHING to do with 4 or 5 people failing to report a criminal. What does that have to do with grade point averages? Nothing. If this was about player GPA's then Penn State football would be beyond reproach.
This was a failure by a few men in power. Let the criminal and civil courts do their jobs, but don't step in because the media expects it and punish those who had nothing to do with this. The current players were in elementary school when the first known offense was committed.
The NCAA punished a program because of its proximity to individual repulsive behavior and terrible acts of omission. They should punish offenders. You don't try to kill PepsiCo and, injure the communities it supports, because a few executives did some very bad things. When you start blindly shooting at an institution, the ricochets are going to hit a lot of innocents.
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