Faculty Member Robert Malekoff Pens Column on Penn State Scandal
Renewing college sports, a column by faculty member Robert Malekoff about Penn State football and longtime head coach Joe Paterno, was published Aug. 6 by the Raleigh News & Observer.
The NCAA on July 23 announced unprecedented penalties for the Penn State football program – a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, the loss of scholarships, five years of probation and more – following the sexual abuse scandal involving former coach Jerry Sandusky.
“It’s not my intent to disparage Joe Paterno, as so many have done in recent days,” the associate professor and chair of the Department of Sport Studies wrote. “Today, even his most ardent supporters would acknowledge his playing at least some role in allowing unspeakably harmful acts against defenseless children. But I find the massive ‘piling on’ excessive and even a bit unseemly. Some of those who seem to be taking so much satisfaction over stomping on a dead man’s grave might do well to think about their own tangential role in this tragic affair.
“We sports fans tend to assign all kinds of positive personal characteristics to players and coaches we admire, whether earned or not. Winning championships and scoring touchdowns doesn’t necessarily make someone a good person, but we are quick to put the Joe Paternos, John Caliparis, et al on pedestals, reveling in every success and finding convenient excuses for actions and behaviors we might normally be quick to condemn. That’s how we empower our heroes to do as they please, often oblivious to who might be adversely impacted by their actions. Make no mistake about it, we fans play a seminal role in creating and nurturing an environment that allows for – at times even encourages – various abuses … some relatively innocuous, and others despicable, like what occurred in central Pennsylvania.”
Robert, a lifelong Penn State fan, wrote that supporters of college athletics must demand an overhaul of a “too often corrupt and ultimately unsustainable system.”
The column also was published July 18 by College Sports Business News.