Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sandusky is everywhere for Penn Staters

Penn State fans have been deeply wounded by Sandusky - and then by having to talk about it with everyone, and having it hover over their lives in perpetuity

The bowl loss to Houston was sadly predictable, and the coaching search is looking more and more like a never-ending mess.

If you are a Penn Stater, and especially if you are an overt Penn State supporter, what Jerry Sandusky allegedly did to children has only been part of your suffering.

Dealing with your colleagues/friends/neighbors/associates, etc., has been a daily kick in the gut.

Whether at work, or over a beer with friends, or at holiday gatherings, you've come to dread those aggravating, awkward occasions when the Sandusky scandal is brought up. Heck, even when it's not brought up, it can be the elephant in the room.

Having to listen to someone discussing the scandal who is either misinformed, misguided, factually erroneous, gleefully condescending, Mr. (or Mrs.) Moral Courage, all-knowing, uncomfortable, misplacing sympathy, relieved/gloating, etc., has become your burden. Even listening to someone who knows what they're talking about can get weary.

What can you do in these situations? You can't go into detailed explanation of the facts, or launch a lively discussion, because no one wants to hear it from you, you woebegone Penn Stater - they all just assume you are presenting some crooked version of the facts, because you are biased and wounded and exposed, of course.

And heck, you probably should have stopped Sandusky, too, you enabler!

Everything that comes out of your mouth is taken with a grain of salt. They know what they know - some know a lot, some a little, much of it skewed or flat-out wrong - and they've drawn conclusions, and that's that, end of story.

You're stuck. And you might be stuck for a long time.

Life stinks for Penn Staters these days.

Here's how your recent and foreseeable future encounters about Penn State break down, by type of person you have the misfortune of engaging:

  • The Overreactor Tough Guy - The person (usually a man) who latched onto the headlines the first few days of the scandal, played instant judge and jury with the sensationalized media slant, and perceive themselves as some sort of William Wallace-esque, justice-seeking martial force: "What JoePa should have done was call a couple of his buddies, get a few baseball bats, go find Sandusky and take care of it himself. Instead, he decided a child rapist should have free reign over Penn State football. If it had been me, Sandusky would have been taken care of right then and there.'' 
  • The Condescender - Probably someone who knows you moderately well, and who likes being up on a soapbox and talking down their nose to you: "I know your hyper-loyal Nittany brain won't let you see what actually happened here, so I'll help you out, poor blinded pathetic sap: JoePa actually really is a scumbag who perpetuated a child rapist because he wanted to protect his own legacy. Or didn't want to scare off recruits. Or whatever reason - he did it. The previous 62 years? Just a mirage. Really, he's a child-rapist abettor, no more no less. Those are the facts. Deal with it.''
  • The Holier Than Thou - The reasonably intelligent and informed person who thinks they fully know and understand this incredibly nuanced and largely still unknown saga, and know exactly how McQueary and Paterno should have handled the situation, and largely ignore pretty much everyone and everything else connected to Sandusky and the scandal: "He knew. Of course JoePa knew Sandusky was raping children. How could he not know, especially after what McQueary told him? He needed to go to the police and he didn't, simple as that. Telling the guy who is in charge of the police isn't the same as telling the police. He needed to walk right into the police station with Mike McQueary at his side. Proper response, legal protocol, professional procedure be damned - it's about doing the right thing. And he didn't have the moral courage to do it. And neither did McQueary. Telling the administrators who were in position to do something about it absolves them of nothing. They are moral cowards.
  • The Moron (typically an alum of another power football school, possibly in the Big Ten and just to the west of Pennsylvania) - No concern for the victims, or for any actual people, couldn't care less about facts and doesn't even really pretend to, just elated this didn't happen to his school/football team, and reveling in the fact it happened to yours, especially because of the perceived ethical high ground PSU has occupied in the college sports world: "Ha! You're now 'Child-Rapist School' and will always be know as 'Child-Rapist School! You'll never again get good recruits. You're football program is done, your school permanently scandalized. That means more good recruits for my school!"
  • The Underinformed -
    • "McQueary didn't give JoePa any details?"
    • "JoePa had McQueary report what he saw directly to the VP who oversaw campus police? And to the Athletic Director? So they're the ones who basically let Sandusky off the hook in 2002 and thereafter?"
    • "Sandusky hadn't worked for Penn State since 1999? 
    • "Sandusky met all of his alleged victims through the charity he founded? And executives at the charity allegedly were aware of earlier allegations?"
    • "As far as we know the only knowledge JoePa had of anything relating to Sandusky is what McQueary told him?"
    • "JoePa isn't charged with anything, even after the Grand Jury investigation?''
    • "JoePa was fired via telephone, and the Board didn't discuss anything with him about this matter before firing him? But the AD wasn't fired? And the VP in charge of campus police - the only person known to have knowledge of both the 1998 and 2002 allegations against Sandusky - was allowed to re-retire, and collects a massive pension?"
    • "There were at least five times as many people, if not 8-10 times as many, at the candlelight vigil as at the 'riot' the night Paterno was fired? And unlike the vigil, 98-plus percent of those at the 'riot' weren't participating?"
The Empathizer -
  • "Well, I went to Syracuse ... "
  • "I know Bill Conlin ... "
  • "I work for ESPN, which inexplicably sat on that explosive Laurie Fine audiotape for eight years and did not forward it to authorities even though we knew police had investigated Bernie Fine and probably could have used this information, as could have the Syracuse administration ... "
  • "I know the former AAU president Bobby Dodd ... "
  • "I know tennis great Bob Hewitt ... "
  • "I know Canadian youth hockey serial molester Graham James ... " (http://www.torontosun.com/2011/12/14/kennedy-hopes-us-can-learn-from-penn-state-sex-scandal)
The Sympathizer - Genuinely nice person, wants to support you, just not quite capable of doing it well and/or misinformation intercepts their good intentions: "I fell badly for you (um, okay, thanks), and for Penn State. Penn State is getting hammered by the media (yes, it is). It's too bad no one stopped that Sandusky guy sooner (yeah, no kidding). I guess JoePa just wanted to protect the school and that's why he didn't go to police (sigh)."

The Confused -
  • "I heard ... (insert incorrect information here)"
  • "I read ... (insert incorrect information here)"
  • "I was told ... (insert incorrect information here)"
  • "I think ... (insert incorrect information here)"
The Avoider - Knows you really care about Penn State and fears your temperament/mindset. "Hi Bob. This weather is crazy, isn't it? See you later (briskly walks away).''

The Conspirator - The person who knows Joe Paterno was the long-time, legendary football coach at Penn State and therefore concludes Paterno, despite being in his 70s and 80s during the past nine years and having severely dialed back his activity level and involvement, had to be pulling the strings behind the scenes the entire time. "JoePa knew everything about everything in State College/Penn State, so of course he knew everything Sandusky was up to. He probably has been orchestrating the cover-up for decades. C'mon, he's Joe Paterno, the King of Penn State. You have to be incredibly myopic to think he didn't know everything that was going on."


Perhaps you've encountered several of these stereotypes. Maybe you've met some others not listed here. Some of them might make valid points. Many others are just aggravating.

Get used to it. While things have died down a bit, this topic will bubble to the surface frequently in the coming months, perhaps years, as Sandusky's legal case drags on along with those of AD Tim Curley and VP Gary Schultz, and as the media monitors JoePa's health and his anticipated public comments about the matter, and as more accusations are levied against Sandusky, etc.

This is the new life of the Penn Stater. The burden shared.

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