Penn State’s 9/11?

Asked by a reporter how he felt about sanctions against the Penn State football program, one fan said, “I just can’t put my arms around it, it’s, to me, it was our 9/11 today.”

Ummm…no, it was justice.

In the Penn State fiasco, the only events remotely comparable to 9/11 were the sexual assaults of children committed by a former Penn State coach.

Unfortunately, this fan isn’t alone in his opinion.  Upon visiting the fan message board on Rivals’ Penn State website, you will find many, many other fans who seem far more outraged at their university’s punishment than at the real crimes.  Many want to fire the university president for accepting the sanctions.  Many want to sue the NCAA.  Many are furious at Louis Freeh for his report implicating Joe Paterno.  Many are outraged that their beloved coach’s statue was removed from their campus.  Many refuse to consider the culture that allowed Jerry Sandusky to abuse children for so long.  Many are in denial – convinced that their university could not have covered up the crimes.

Of course, Penn State’s fans are not unique.  The fans of such football factories as Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and USC would likely react in much the same way.  Their teams have been on top so long, the fans feel entitled.  They have lost touch with reality.  Many are all too willing to turn a blind eye to crimes committed by great players.  They dismiss their team’s cheating by saying “everyone does it.”  They ignore the fact that many of their star athletes attend their university only for football.  A degree program and grades are immaterial.  What really matters is another bowl win.

Maybe it’s time for universities to, once again, view football and basketball as mere sports.  Not as sources for endlesss amounts of money.  Maybe they should be more concerned with their academic reputations than their sports reputations.  Maybe they should focus on students more than athletes.

Well, you can’t blame me for dreaming.