The events that unfolded over recent weeks at Penn State have touched on the darkest side of human nature, and the cover up highlights the worst aspect of sports – when winning takes a back seat to everything else.
In this episode of the Edge of Sports, Dave Zirin and Jeremiah Tittle discuss Penn State, as well as the outcome of the NBA lockout, with Kevin “The Coach” McNutt and Dave Canton, professor of history at Connecticut College.
The final outcome for former coach Jerry Sandusky will be decided in the courts, and as that occurs, more details are likely to come out regarding the incidents and who knew what, and when. Joe Paterno has already been fired, but the broader cover up scandal will likely still play out over some time.
“I’m insulted by how the folks at Penn State are saying [that] nobody knew and this just came out of the blue,” Canton said. “A team is a family. And then, you can’t have it both ways. So nobody knew this?”
Canton referenced the comments of former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, who said that he believed that everybody on the coaching staff had to know. Switzer commented that he believed that a coaching staff is so close, and works so closely together, that the entire staff had to know and be complicit in the cover up.
Canton’s recommendation was to that they have to go much further than they already have. “Clean house, clean sweep,” Canton said.
Assuming they wipe the board clean, will Penn State be able to recover? And if so, how long will that take?
“I think they will [recover] over time,” McNutt said. “It’s going to take years of getting underneath the cause of these problems and then trying to get new ideas and new individuals in the institution.”
McNutt focused on the culture as also being complicit in the problem. It’s not just the individuals that knew, but the Penn State First culture of the institution and the area. “That’s one of the major problems we have. Everyone being a Penn State grad, from the area, there were no new ideas and no new ways of doing things.”
In order for the cover up to have lasted as long as it did, everyone who had knowledge of the incidents had to believe that keeping quiet to “protect the program” was more important than actually doing the right thing to protect possible future victims. And that makes all of them equally culpable.
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