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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Death penalty might punish wrong people at PSU

By Marla Ridenour Published: July 12, 2012

I’m as appalled as anyone by the depravity of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.
I’m as disgusted as anyone by the extent of the cover-up by Penn State officials, including the revelation in Louis Freeh’s report released Thursday that coach Joe Paterno was aware children were being raped by Sandusky as far back as 1998.
I wish, like everyone, that the janitors who witnessed Sandusky’s pedophilia, including the Korean War veteran who said the horror of the atrocity was worse than anything he’d seen in battle, had the courage Paterno lacked.
But I’m still not convinced that the death penalty for Penn State football is the answer.
Part of me wonders if that wouldn’t be sweeping the young victims’ pain under the rug.
Part of me wonders if Penn State not playing football in 2012 and/or 2013 will help people forget.
I want people to remember, and remember and remember.
Yes, I want Paterno’s statue taken down.
I want to see athletic director Tim Curley, president Graham Spanier and vice president Gary Schultz squirm in a courtroom and go to jail with Sandusky.
I want university trustees to be forced to talk about Sandusky’s crimes for years.
I want part of that $208 million in donations Penn State received in the fiscal year ending June 30 to go to the men who were abused, most of them after Sandusky was investigated 14 years ago.
I want anyone who ever thinks about laying a hand on a child in any manner to think twice because of Jerry Sandusky.
I’m not agreeing with the letter Paterno wrote shortly before his death seven months ago and released Wednesday in which he said, “This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one.”
The cover-up was all about preserving the football program. Sandusky used his cachet from his years of coaching and his access to the football building, even after his retirement, to lure his victims. Young boys found it hard to resists his gifts of sports gear, trips to bowl games and camps, all the trappings of the glory that is Penn State football.
But will the death penalty, especially if relatively short, really bring all that down?
Will it not hurt more innocent young men, their potential football careers derailed if the NCAA forces them to sit out a year after transferring? Football also funds most , if not all, of the other athletic programs at Penn State, which means more male and female athletes could suffer if their sports' budgets are cut.
To me, Freeh’s report is the ultimate damnation of the men at the top at Penn State. Right now I can’t help but think that those at the bottom have suffered enough.



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