BOZICH: Death Penalty Cries Excessive at Penn State - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Death Penalty Cries Excessive at Penn State

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The calls to eliminate football at Penn State for several seasons are growing. The calls to eliminate football at Penn State for several seasons are growing.

LOUISVILLE (WDRB) – Here is one thing that makes me howl about the media business:

For 40 years the race was on to write love letters to Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program. If one writer described Paterno as a beacon of integrity, the next piece would raise the ante with 20 paragraphs about the magnificence of everything the former PSU football coach contributed in his community, which in Paterno's case was the world.

He was Saint Joe, a former Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, the willing subject of an upcoming book by Joe Posnanski, a writer as acclaimed as any in the business.

Then the news from last November arrived.

About Jerry Sandusky, long one of Paterno's most trusted assistant coaches. About Sandusky being a serial pedophile, sexually assaulting children, sometimes in the Penn State football complex.

About Paterno and school administrators giving 110 percent effort to look the other way and make certain the story never became The Scandal, more disturbing than anything we've heard about paying recruits or changing grades.

Now another race is on – a race to level Penn State football in five minutes or less.

Google "Penn State football, death penalty." You'll get nearly 24,000 results, some calling for Penn State to shut down its football program for two, three, five years.

Simply eliminate football at Penn State? That voice is growing, too.

That's what makes me howl about the media business. Shades of gray have no place in the debate. Zero. Paterno was never as saintly as he was sold. Nobody is. His unyielding insistence upon commanding the sidelines at Penn State two decades after he should have stepped aside was the clearest sign of a coach and school that overvalued how indispensable Joe Paterno was.

But the problems within the entire Penn State football program are not much different than conditions that percolate at another campus or two.

Runaway idolatry.

Distorted perspective on the importance of winning, winning, winning.

A furious collective resolve to attack those who question the coach or the program.

Those aren't Penn State issues. Those are major-college sports in America issues.

Heck, they're human-being issues. There's a reason that the Old Testament is packed with stories about the dangers of idolatry. Joe Paterno wasn't the only coach making more money than the university president or a professor searching for an answer to an incurable disease. Million Dollar Men are only a tight spiral away from everybody.

A Joe Paterno-like figure could surface at many campuses I could name. I won't name even one because my point is not to inspire a furious collective resolve from any school that would top my list – or provide an all-clear signal to those I overlooked.

Punish Jerry Sandusky. Keep him in jail for every second of his sentence. Question him. Often. Sandusky must have insight into how he was able to commit his heinous acts without fear for all those years. Find out why.

Keep investigating Paterno, beyond what the Freeh Report revealed. His family argues in his defense. Let them be heard. Show serious concern for the victims by minimizing the memory of Paterno around the football program. The victims were forgotten for 14 years. Don't let them be forgotten for another minute.

Pursue the others who were allegedly involved in the cover-up – president Dr. Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz. Their day in court is coming. That's how it should be.

Penn State is suffering -- and will for years because of this scandal. Many Penn State alums are ashamed of a school they love.

But giving Penn State football the death penalty would be giving every sport at Penn State the death penalty. We all know that football pays for everything. It would be punishing thousands with no connection to Jerry Sandusky because of the disgusting actions of a few. It would be the result of a media feeding frenzy on HGH.

It would be saying that the runaway love affair with a coach and a program at Penn State was unlike anything we have seen at another school.

And we all know that simply isn't so.

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