Little Lost Boys

I’ve been writing light-hearted posts about life in the country, pie recipes and 80s hair bands. But today I have to take a serious turn and it’s a departure from the things I usually write about. The scandal and wrong-doing at Penn State has me stirred up. Every free thought I’ve had today (and it’s been a very busy day) was about the situation at Penn State—about the boys who were victimized.

My husband is the college football fan in our house and in our six years of marriage, I have picked up a lot of details about the inter-workings of the sport. He is an avid follower of Big 12 and SEC football and collegiate athletics in general. He has friends that are sports journalists, so he gets some of the insider scoop and details that can’t be printed.

As this story unfolds, my insides churn. Maybe I’m turning soft in my old age, maybe it’s because I am the mother to a little boy, I don’t know. But when I think about the few details I know about this story, it sickens me. I have to pause and remind myself to breathe. This story has legs unlike most other stories about failures of justice. The legs are in the emotional connection we have to our alma mater or our favorite college team.

This is a story about corruption and greed and the willingness to forgo all moral and ethical boundaries in our society for the glory of a winning football team (and a big pile of money). This story is about a child rapist who found a hole to hide in called Penn State football. Rape isn’t about sex; it’s about absolute power and control over another. And to prey upon the most vulnerable of our society is [insert catchy adjective here].

And doesn’t absolute power corrupted absolutely? Welcome to the corruption of college football. College football means big bragging rights and big-time money. There are great things about college sports; it’s a uniting force; it shapes a community and culture; it’s an opportunity for someone to get an education that might not have the resources otherwise; it builds loyalty and legacy bases for noble endeavors.

But this scandal exposes the ugliness and hateful parts of the most evil there is in the world. College football just happens to be the canvas in which this picture is painted. It’s a story about a cast of characters that traded in their human cards for “winner” cards at the expense of little boys.

There were multiple people in many different layers of leadership and organizations, both government and private, that FAILED to do the right thing. There is no moral ambiguity here. And that includes you, Joe Paterno, who has turned out to show his true colors as a narcissist, concerned only about the record books. Jerry Sandusky should be afraid because even the society of a maximum security prison won’t tolerate a child rapist.

I have a fondness and deep loyalty to my own institution. I am a proud Red Raider. TTU was established in the 1920s and is still a neophyte compared to other institutions in the east. It’s not known as a powerhouse in collegiate athletics, and we don’t have a so-called “winning tradition.” And if “winning tradition” means lying, cheating and raping of children, then I’m totally ok with a lackluster sports program. Don’t get me wrong, I want my school to excel in all its undertakings, but not at the expense of its fundamental humanity.

It is never too late to do the right thing and may the little boys who’ve been wronged find justice and healing, and eventually peace.

(Tomorrow I’ll be back with a happier story about pie recipes.)

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