Regardless of how one may feel about Joe Paterno, I think the Penn State sex scandal raises some important issues about just how modern sports affect our society.
The current scandal is just another example of just how endemic corruption through sports really is at all levels. Universities, at every level, including universities like LHU, are almost autonomous with a few powerful people making almost all the decisions with little oversight and without the ability to be questioned. Clearly, this can and usually does lead to a situation rife with potential for bad things to happen and go unnoticed or even to be brushed aside.
I think this whole matter can shed some insight on sports in America in general. Where people once controlled sports, sports now control us, thanks to the extreme commercialization and the amount of money involved. Sure, sports can be fun and they have their place. Do they need to have 63 24-hour news programs covering every aspect of it? Absolutely not. I think we can see that most professional sports are just another way to separate you from your money, and you've become so conditioned to the sports culture that you'll gladly give it away.
Professional athletes at this point really are over half criminals. Most athletes definitely are not good role models any longer and most athletes, although serving a function in society (entertainment), aren't that much of a benefit to justify their exorbitant salaries.
At the university level, the schools stand to earn or lose so much money that they're willing to recruit people who have no business being near a collegiate environment, cover up scandals, discriminate on race and sex and develop a sports culture so pervasive that they overlook the fact that the university is a place to be educated. These schools' sports programs become the sole representation or face of the university, which isn't how it should be. With the stakes so high for a school and the money so important, it's no wonder that we have schools covering up sex scandals, blatantly cheating or de facto paying their players.
At the high school level parents fight and scream with one another. Parents punish their children over poor performance or parents hold grudges against educators for perceived slights against their children. The lure of professional athlete money has become so strong that parents pressure their children into unachievable goals, all the while risking injury and adding stress to their children's lives. People sometimes say that playing sports well may be these children's only way out. Why not instead have them focus on academics and get out that way?
Unfortunately, because of a sick individual (Jerry Sandusky) and the new American culture of sports, he wound up having essentially a conveyor belt of victims fed to him, because in some instances parents were so absorbed into the lure of money, fame and positive gratification that they surely failed to realize or simply overlooked some of the warning signs. Yes, a coach is supposed to be a trusted person, and I'm sure it is something you would never generally expect to happen, but I think when gifts and evenings spent at a coach's home become the standard of the level of interaction, somewhere instinctively a red flag should have gone up to some of the victims' families.
This ugly incident was incredibly horrific and unfortunate. I think it must be looked at in a larger context, though. This happened because of one sick person, a lot of individual mistakes and because the new American sports culture allowed it. Remember, sports used to be an outlet to relieve stress, have fun in your free time and enjoy watching with friends. Today, however, we have so much more free time than we did years ago, and we have given so much more of our power blindly away that you, yes you America, have given sports control over you and not the other way around.