Penn State, the Death Penalty, and Such
The long-awaited Freeh report is out in public. This allows everyone to start debating Penn State. Some have even thrown around the idea of the death penalty for Penn State. There are too many writers suggesting that to bother citing to any one of them. The Confidential does not want to minimize what happened at Penn State, but fails to see how the death penalty serves anyone’s interests.
Nobody wins if Penn State football is killed. Penn State and its fans obviously lose. The Big 10 loses. Anyone who enjoys playing and defeating (whether often or not) Penn State loses. The NCAA loses–demonstrating that it cannot prevent wrongful conduct, only punish it long after it occurs. Seriously, who wins?
Most importantly, there are victims of these crimes. These victims have friends and relatives. These victims want justice, surely, but do not want to be responsible for the death of the Penn State football program that entertains so many people they know and care about, and is so integral to local life. The victims have suffered enough.
A better justice for these victims would be a cleaned-up Penn State program that takes the lead on preventing this from happening again anywhere. Actually, there is a rather obvious institutional problem as it relates to sexual abuse, especially child sexual abuse. People do not want to believe that colleagues, particularly respected colleagues, can be abusive. This is not limited to football programs, but happens in churches, businesses, and government. However, there are some very smart people who get paid to research at Penn State. Perhaps Penn State could devote some significant resources from its Big Ten television revenue to putting its smartest sociologist, psychologist and business minds together on how to create an institutional system that allows for a rational, proper response to accusations of sexual abuse. Not laws or regulations that defer responsibility to the government, but a system that allows entities to self-police long before it reaches the stage of punishment. This would not be as financially lucrative as sucking on the teat of Monsanto, but this would be Penn State’s greatest gift to the victims–preventing future victims in more places than merely Penn State.
If the NCAA wants to kill Penn State football, it can. Then we can start talking about what happens next in the conference scheme. Frankly, the Confidential thinks that those discussions are designed more to inflame passions and entice viewership than any real possibility of the NCAA implementing the death penalty. The problem is that arguments can detract from solutions. Until Penn State folks stop worrying about legacies, can anything good be accomplished. Non-Penn State folks need to stop provoking the Penn State folks. And so on.
The Confidential has never much cared for Penn State. They belonged in the Big East. They would fit nicely in the ACC today. But that does not mean that it supports the death of its football program. And without an explanation as to how it benefits all, or even anyone, the Confidential cannot support it. Punishment can be cathartic, but it can also be pointless.