I know this is a hockey blog, but some things in life are bigger than sports. In fact, most things in life are bigger than sports. This is one of the times that I need to use this forum to talk about something else.
Imagine you are in your local gym locker room after a late work out. The place is nearly empty. But you hear something. Someone. A familiar sound. It’s a sound you recognize only from intimate situations. It’s so distinctive. It’s coming from a far corner of the room. You move closer to the sound. There you find a young child in a position of submission, his naked body being violated by a much older and much stronger man. They see you. You freeze and then quickly walk out, stunned by what you have witnessed, leaving the young boy to fend for himself.
You go home and later tell a school coach what you saw. The police are never notified, but it’s okay because the man’s key to the locker room was confiscated.
Now imagine the little boy was your child.
Scenario two: You’re at a party at a friend’s house. You go upstairs to get something out of his or her bedroom for them. There is a girl pinned to the floor, a guy on top of her. She is struggling (or maybe she is passed out). You walk out. The next day you tell a friend what you saw. He says “Wow, man. That’s messed up.” The two of you go about your day.
Imagine that girl was your daughter. Your sister. Your girlfriend. Your best friend. A total stranger. Imagine it was YOU.
The first scenario plays out an adaptation of the portion of the indictment against former Penn State football defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky. If you don’t know by now who Jerry Sandusky is, I suggest you turn on a tv or get on Google.
I read all 23 disgusting pages of the indictment. (You can read it here.) While it is graphic and difficult to handle, I suggest that anyone with a shred of humanity read it. Read it and read it well.
A minimum of eight minor boys were raped, molested, and fondled by Sandusky over almost two decades of time. He had access to young boys via his charity, The Second Mile. This program was an outreach to disadvantaged youth males, to bring sports and even hope into their lives for a better future. What Sandusky did instead was turn into some children’s worst nightmare.
And people knew. People of authority at the school knew. Witnesses from the student body and staff knew. And no one did a thing to stop it.
PSU’s legendary football coach, Joe Paterno is receiving a mix of support and excoriation. Anyone not on the firing squad side has a serious lack of priorities. This is not about football. This is not about sports. This is about innocent children who were harmed and no one did a damn thing to stop it, to save them from being preyed upon. PSU’s precious coach was among that crowd.
He stated that “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
More? More than what? More than cover for your friend by NOT calling the police? More than sweeping it under the rug for years?
Paterno, thankfully, was terminated this evening, as was PSU President Graham Spanier. All involved, including the athletic directors and any other faculty that knew should be terminated and left to fend for themselves, rather than the school funding their defense as they have claimed they will do.
The graduate assistant who rather than calling the police, left the boy alone to continue being raped, should also have charges filed against him. The fact that at that moment in time, not one neuron fired in his brain telling him to put an immediate end to this act and to call authorities makes him just as guilty as the school faculty involved.
Something in this country has gone seriously awry. Protecting a football program and a school’s reputation were more important than protecting children from harm and the most violating and heinous type of abuse a child could endure.
There was a time in this country, perhaps a time that I arrived too late for, when people took care of each other. My family is not exactly religious, but I was always taught to “love thy neighbor.” I was taught to do the right thing and trust my instincts. If you feel something is wrong, it probably is.
My mother is one of the kindest individuals I have ever known and she and my father would be extremely disappointed in me if I had witnessed anything like this and didn’t speak up. Not even disappointed. It would be more than that. They would be disgusted that I could be so selfish as to turn my cheek. My grandfather, a retired police officer, would be disgraced.
This transcends sports. If you think this is about football, you need to reexamine your life. If you think that this whole situation wasn’t mishandled by every single person involved, you have no idea what is important in life.
As a parent, I cannot imagine what the families of the victims are feeling tonight. I also cannot begin to conceive of what I would do if I found out that my son had been abused and people covered it up, allowing more and more children to fall prey to this man.
Joe Paterno is not a victim here. Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier are not victims. Eight or more boys and their families are the victims. Put your heart into them.
If you know or suspect a child is being abused, please notify the police or call one of the numbers below or clink the links provided. If you do nothing, in my eyes, you are just as guilty as the perpetrator.
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Child Welfare Information Gateway (You can find information by state here, including how/where to report abuse and what the child abuse laws in your state are.)