Today Penn State was dealt what has been described as a crushing blow by the National Collegiate Athletic Association; one that will impact the University for years. The $60 million fine, postseason ban, scholarship reductions, and reversal of past wins can not have been an easy pill to swallow for the Penn State administration, alumni, and students. It has been suggested that it will be a decade or more before Penn State recovers.
Admittedly, I am not a follower of football. But I know enough to recognize how devastating this must have been for those loyal to Penn State. I do feel for the young athletes who have put their hearts and souls into the sport. They were and are innocent in the fall-out of the Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
While I am saddened for the innocent student players in this decision, I cannot put aside the image of young boys being sexually abused while the men; and yes, from what I understand they were all men; protected Sandusky and sacrificed children in the process. The victims lost their childhood and innocence and will be forever scarred by the criminal actions of not one but several men. They cannot regain the childhood lost. Their setback will last much longer than a decade.
While this decision does little to change what they must feel, or alleviate the pain they have endured, or the ongoing trauma they suffer, it does send a message. The message sent is that children deserve to be protected from people like Sandusky and those who know of pedophile acts, or any form of child abuse, have an obligation to take immediate action to stop it, or face stiff and decisive penalties. No, it will not change the pain and suffering of the children victimized, but maybe it will make another employer, co-worker, or administrator, think twice before attempting to cover up such abuse. Maybe it will make people realize that, in attempting to protect their institutions and reputations, they are likely going to suffer far greater losses. Maybe children will be able to count on adults to take appropriate action regarding suspected abuse.
I hope that is the take-away from all of this. Nothing, no-one, and no institution is worth so much that the sacrifice of innocent children is justified. Child abuse is no game but if it were, this decision represents a partial win for children. The greater victory would be an end to child abuse entirely. I hope that we get there, some day.