I have been in the same locker room, albeit on a professional level, with Jerry Sandusky.
That gives me an uneasy feeling.
On a fall night about 10 years ago, I remember attending a Joe Paterno press conference after the Penn State Nittany Lions picked apart an undermanned Illinois Fighting Illini team. I was thrilled to see this legend in person.
That now disturbs me.
After seeing the Penn State football players, all dressed in suits after the game, very respectful and polite, I was amazed.
That now saddens me, because this was around the same time the well-publicized and awful incidents were going on in the showers on their campus.
Let me say this, as an Ohioan and an avid Buckeyes follower, I have no love for Penn State football, or their athletics program in general. However, I am dismayed by the instant gratification culture calling for Penn State to receive the death penalty from the NCAA.
Think it through. The criminal, Sandusky, is in jail, and will be for life. Or, until he meets his demise at the hands of one of his fellow inmates. There is a high percentage this WILL happen, too. The legendary coach, Paterno, whose reputation is sullied, rightly so, beyond recognition, has passed on and cannot tell his tale. Those in charge at the school have either been fired and face jail time, are in jail, and are obviously highly unemployable in the future.
So is the death penalty REALLY a good idea? Again, think it through.
There are entrepreneurs, restaurant/bar owners, vendors, training staff, landscape and maintenance crews, etc. who are all set to lose their jobs if football is shuttered. How is it right to force a business owner, especially in this economy, but in general, to the streets because of the misdeeds of others? They depend on those six or seven fall home dates for football to make a living for the entire year. It is not their fault that the university employed a sick individual who used his power to do things beyond belief. And it is not their fault that the man they grew up lionizing turned into a fraud, covering up crimes to protect his buddy, the football program, and basically his own legend.
How is the death penalty fair to current Penn State football players and coaches who weren’t there at the time of the crimes? Or how is it fair to kill the tennis program, gymnastics, golf, field hockey and other less popular sports which football basically pays for. Because, as everyone knows, football and men’s basketball basically allow all of those other periphery sports to exist.
Who are these people calling for the death penalty really hurting? Again, think it through.
The people calling for the death penalty may not have been victims of child molestation or predation. I can tell you, it is not enjoyable or a good memory. While growing up in South Florida, I was lucky enough to have the intelligence to run as fast as possible when once approached, and explicitly accosted, by a sick older man. The memory is painful, and not something you speak of. I feel for the victims of this crime, because it is F*ing embarrassing, and you feel like a sack of dirt.
What’s more, Penn State will have to pay millions of dollars to the victims, and rightly so. Think about it. There are frivolous lawsuits in this country all of the time. Some moron puts coffee between their legs, spills it while driving, burns themselves and then sues for the restaurant for millions. Another person attends a Justin Bieber concert and then sues that the music was too loud. If those people see a dime, it is a sad and flawed legal system. But these victims deserve every cent. Does money make the bad memories go away? No. Would they like to see other innocent people lose their jobs, have to move to other towns, etc. because of the loss of Penn State football? I’d like to think they do not.
Someone argued with me that SMU received the death penalty for far less egregious actions. Yes, that is true. But in the early 1980′s, college athletics and the NCAA were a totally different ballgame. Things 30 years ago or so are WAY different. Today, SMU gets a slap on the wrist with a bowl ban, a few scholarships taken away and they have to vacate records from the year they were bad.
Anyway, Penn State is expected to pay the piper Monday. The NCAA will announce “unprecedented” penalties. It should mean a scholarship deduction, although it will likely be hard to fill all of those slots now anyway, and a five-year bowl ban. If that’s what the NCAA metes out, that would seem just. Any complete shuttering of the football program gives those talking heads and the politically correct their pound of flesh, but is it really the best course of action. I stand by my original answer of no.
The only death penalty that should be given out is to Jerry Sandusky.
Over the past 12 years, Daniel Dobish has written for CBSSports.com, OPENSports.com, RotoExperts.com and several other prestigious sports and fantasy sports websites and magazines. Originally from Cleveland, Dan now lives in the Raleigh, N.C. area with his wife and two sons. You may contact Dan @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @danieledobish