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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

Death Penalty Is The Only Solution

Courage is the quality of mind and spirit that allows someone to face difficulty, danger and pain without fear. The antonym is cowardice. The 10 victims of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who put their pain and humiliation on display before the public, have courage.

Penn State has acted cowardly. Former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigation just made that more clear. What remains to be seen is whether the school’s board of trustees has the courage to do what is necessary and kill the golden goose. It will take guts. Regardless of the public outrage, Penn State football remains a self-righteous institution, and not just within the state.

In an ESPN SportsNation poll, 55 percent of Pennsylvania respondents said the school should not remove Paterno’s statue. In another poll about the possibility of the “death penalty,” the majority of voters in only four states, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi and Hawaii, felt cancelling the program is the correct response. It is in the face of such differing opinion where real courage is displayed.

Jay Paterno, Joe’s son, criticized the report and, during an interview on ESPN, reminded viewers, “Everybody has to keep some things in perspective. This is not a legal document in any way. This has a much lower bar and burden of proof. It is really an opinion. There are no new facts in here after 3 million documents and 400-plus interviews. There are really no new facts, just some new interpretations of things.”

A cowardly statement? I’m more inclined to describe the comment, and the person who made it, as pieces of crap. Editorial rules prevent me from using a more purposeful comment.

Misguided popular opinion, including from Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, say that any move against the football team is unfair to the current players and coaches who had nothing to do with the crimes. What’s unfair is that at least 10 children were sexually assaulted on multiple occasions in the football locker room showers and perhaps other places on campus.

According to the report, Paterno responded to McCreary’s report of witnessing an assault, saying, “You did what you had to do, now it’s up to me to decide what we want to do.” The statement is clear. The decision of how to move forward rested with the coach, no one else. Informed that a child may have been sexually assaulted in the football complex, Paterno waited more than a day to inform his superiors because he didn’t want to ruin their weekend.

Before the NCAA has a chance to move, Penn State needs to shut down the program and let the current players and coaches go unimpeded to other opportunities. Anything less is indecent and cowardly. Penn State football, though its size, wealth and impact, was the recruiting tool Sandusky used to gain access to the children he eventually raped, and the reason a cover up had to occur, is a beast that continues to be fed.

In the face of the worst scandal in college sports history, Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien has amassed one of the best recruiting classes in the country. That’s his job. But to have weekly celebrations a short walk from the site where children were raped, is not just immoral and insensitive, but cowardly.

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