bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Penn State sanctions are reduced, but the false narrative continues

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On Monday, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell released his latest report issued as the academics integrity monitor for Penn State, a position to which he was appointed by the NCAA when it handed down historic sanctions a couple of years ago as the Jerry Sandusky scandal unfolded. As expected, the report was glowing and included recommendations to remove the remainder of the bowl ban and to return the rest of the scholarships that had been docked. I, along with the rest of Nittany Nation, was thrilled to see this happen. My Twitter feed exploded with unabashed excitement about the promise of the future of the team. As happy as I am to see most of the sanctions brought to an end, I remain unsatisfied, as there are still some aspects of this wholly unjustified punishment that remain in place. Beyond that, the narrative that goes along with this action, from the NCAA, the school’s administration, and the media, is a false one and it grates on me to an incredible extent.

I am certainly on record about my feelings on the whole Sandusky situation. This was a criminal matter, not a football matter. Anyone who read the Freeh Report and all of the actual details should be clear that there was no cover-up here or anything like one. Sandusky is in jail, where he deserves to be. He was a master manipulator who fooled a whole lot of smart people, which is quite common among pedophiles. Google the writings of Jim Clemente if you want to know more. The NCAA had absolutely no business being involved in this matter at all, but there they were, working with the school’s Board of Trustees and the governor of Pennsylvania, doing their best to destroy a great football program. They failed to do so, and the narrative slowly began to turn. The removal of the sanctions is much more of an admission that the NCAA wildly overstepped its bounds than anything else.

The national media is now chirping about this at every turn, discussing the “progress” that Penn State has made, as documented by Senator Mitchell. The NCAA and the Penn State board can now pat themselves on the back, acting as if they had accomplished something in turning around this institution when, in fact, there was no real problem there in the first place. Were there areas in which the school could improve its rules about the Clery Act and things like that? Of course. I imagine every college in the country could use some work there. The true extent to which the claims of the NCAA were bogus, though, is actually extremely clear in the new guidelines the NCAA recently published for how its member schools should handle crimes of a sexual nature. The main gist of the guidelines is that the athletics departments should:

“Cooperate with but not manage, direct, control or interfere with college or university investigations into allegations of sexual violence ensuring that investigations involving student-athletes and athletics department staff are managed in the same manner as all other students and staff on campus.”

It goes on to say that any instances of wrongdoing in this area should be “reported to campus officials for investigation and adjudication.” Wait, what? The NCAA removed 13 years of wins from the record of Joe Paterno and from the football program because it stated that Paterno had not done enough to stop Sandusky. The school fired him based on that claim. Now, this ridiculous organization has mandated that all of the coaches under its purview do exactly what Paterno did. Truly amazing.

The NCAA has been involved in a number of lawsuits related to this matter recently. It is settling and dropping suits left and right to avoid reaching the discovery stage, as it appears that the details of how this all went down would be extremely damaging to it. The lawsuit brought by the family of Joe Paterno and a bunch of former players will not be dropped, though. It shouldn’t be. The truth needs to be told here. It will be very bad for the NCAA, Governor Corbett, and for the members of the Penn State board that ran Paterno out of town, and I look forward to the result. I will not consider the sanctions to be over until the wins are restored and the story set straight. I am a huge fan of new coach James Franklin and am rooting for the program with all I have. The players that stayed through this mess, along with former coach Bill O’Brien, have all of my respect and admiration for what they have done. My support of the Paterno suit does not take anything away from the current team.

When someone steals from you and then gives you some of your stuff back, you are pleased at the return of your belongings but that does not mean you just forget about the rest of it or you shake the hand of the thief.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Wes Welker, who was already likely to miss games due to a concussion, has been suspended by the NFL for testing positive for some kind of performance-enhancing substance. The Denver Broncos receiver will be out for the first four games of the season.

3) After shooting a 76 on Friday at the BMW Championship, Phil Mickelson withdrew from the tournament. He was not injured or anything, so this was really weak. He was just too far back to win so he bailed.

4) The manager of the Texas Rangers, Ron Washington, resigned on Friday. This was a big surprise for everyone involved, as his resignation was unrelated to baseball. He said he quit to attend to a personal matter. Must be a big one.

5) Not sure what it is with NBA owners, but another one has turned out to be a racist. Bruce Levenson, owner of the Atlanta Hawks, is selling the team after it was revealed that he had sent an internal email back in 2012 filled with racist comments. As a Jew, I find it amazing that other Jews like Levenson and Donald Sterling are racist. I grew up around enough bigotry toward Jews to know how awful it can be.

6) An offensive lineman for The Citadel openly claimed that he and his teammates were trying to injure the knees of Florida State players during the football game between the two schools on Saturday. Classy.

7) Wife-beater Ray Rice, who had previously gotten away with a slap on the wrist from the NFL for knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator in Las Vegas earlier this year, was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Monday after an actual video of the punch surfaced publicly. Whatever claims of self-defense he had made were shown to be ridiculous. I can’t imagine that the NFL really never saw this video before, and am assuming that will turn out to be untrue. If so, you might have to wonder if Roger Goodell survives this whole thing.

Good sports:

1) A couple of weeks ago, the Cincinnati Bengals cut Devon Still, a defensive tackle whom they had taken in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. Still’s four-year-old daughter is currently undergoing cancer treatments, so the team re-signed him to the practice squad to make sure he would have health insurance and would continue to get paid while being able to devote as much of his time as possible to his daughter. Nice move.

2) Serena Williams blew away Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets on Sunday to win her third consecutive U.S. Open title and her 18th major championship.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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One Response to “Bad sports, good sports: Penn State sanctions are reduced, but the false narrative continues”

  1. I want to end on a positive, but need to address these issues:

    Penn State, the football program, the players and the students did nothing wrong. It was a tragic evil done by a few and justice will never be done in this world. Good move by NCAA to ease the sanctions and let people heal from this awful situation.

    Ray Rice…go away and get help.

    Good Sports. Cincinnati showed tremendous class and charity. That is worth the price of admission. Thank you Cincy for giving us hope and encouragement.

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