When we stop and think about it for a while, today’s NCAA sanctions against Penn State mark a great day for America. The NCAA’s stunning and comprehensive sanctions are well thought out, multi-faceted, and deliberately severe; they truly have an impact on college sports, college life, national social and moral codes of behavior, and reflect what we so often say we believe in but fall short of putting into practice.
A sports radio personality argued immediately after the announcement that most of the sanctions “do nothing for the victims.” Not true at all. These sanctions will have an immediate and lasting national impact on all sports programs (not just football), on every level (from peewee to, potentially, professional) because no program will tolerate a pedophile because the downside is officially too severe. Think about the number of victimizations that will be prevented because anyone with even the whiff of pedophile will be run out of sports, throughout our country. That is astounding, visionary, and heroic.
Lastly, Penn State, by immediately accepting these sanctions, has gone from villain to potential hero by being mature, pro-active, and responsible about this. The school has a very real opportunity here to become leaders in the maturing of America because they did what we so rarely do in this country; once the truth hit, they assessed their shortcomings and took decisive action to correct their deficiencies. In a time when we as a nation are quick to dodge responsibilities, greedily insulate from blame, and scapegoat others in politics, business, sports, marriage, religion, and in so many other areas of our culture, here we have adults maturely accepting devastating penalties and corrective actions to “take a significant step forward.” That is immensely helpful, to the victims (these actions confirm that what was done to them was, in fact, wrong), potential future victims (saving others from suffering like these victims did), and to all of us as a nation that is too often in denial (role modeling how to act responsibly).
Bravo on all levels.
Christopher Ryan is author of City of Woe. For more information, click here.