SOUNDOFF VIDEO: What’s Bugging Andy
The Jerry Sandusky scandal has two components…the predator, and the environment that fostered him. At first, they both seem incomprehensible. But at a closer look, only one of them is. I will never understand the mind of monster like Sandusky, and I don`t care to. But to me, the environment is like the back of my hand. I know exactly how a football program can be permitted to get out of control, because it happens all the time, and I`m part of the problem.
I work in the sports media, which is to say, I`ve carved a comfortable life out of merely writing and talking about sports; particularly football. I`ve praised the character of men I don`t know at all simply because I liked the results they got playing or coaching. I`ve marveled at luxury boxes that cost more than my house and I cheered when my own family paid $10,000 for the mere right to buy season tickets to watch a team that won four measly games. Not only have I stood by as football became an outright obsession, I`ve argued against those who would suggest that there`s something wrong with that.
Jerry Sandusky is a sick man, and no one will argue that his skill as a football coach made that okay. But his skill and his pre-established relationship with Joe Paterno made that sickness really unpleasant and inconvenient to address, so it got swept aside in the name of keeping the Nittany Lion boat afloat. That`s absolutely not right, but it`s absolutely understandable…Paterno said look away and everyone did.
To me, it`s doesn`t really matter what he was looking away *from, it`s the fact that everyone just *did. Why? Why is any one man given that type of power? Why would his success on the football field make his *word any stronger? Why would that put it above being questioned? I ask that, but I know the answer. It`s because we put value in the wrong places. We`ve become addicted to the rush that sports provide us and damn anything that might stand in the way of that rush. Damn the coach who runs a clean program but doesn`t win, damn the player who can`t hold on to the ball, damn the media that brings a negative story to light.
Jerry Sandusky is a monster and Joe Paterno did something inexcusable, but without the environment, much of this would have never happened and you and I are among the millions of tiny pillars that support that environment. Coaches are men, and men have flaws. Coaches have power and power corrupts. No one would suggest that they *all go to extremes, but we`ve made it possible for them to occur, and for that, we`re all to blame. I`m Andy Fales, and that`s What`s Bugging Me.