Having been a NCAA Division I college athlete, I am directly aware that male athletes are more valuable (literally) in a college's eyes than any other student. I know this for a fact because of the year long "investigation" the University of Wisconsin (UW) took into the two male athletes that sexually assaulted me that resulted in nothing. I am not alone in being a female athlete denied justice for the sake of preserving another sports team, the case of Beckett Brennan highlights the same issue. The university knew in her case that she was not the only victim, but allowed the other woman to leave their campus without taking action (something universities will no longer be able to do according the the Title IX Guidance released by OCR in 2011). Despite the fact that my attack was by crew team members, I was always warned about the football team at the UW. One of my high school friends was even raped and abused by a football player, Booker Stanley, while I attended. Apparently, after his release from jail he was still allowed to play football for one of the lesser University of Wisconsin teams.
There is a culture, both on campuses and in our society at large, that worships sports teams and the athletes or coaches that make them successful. The Penn State scandal should be a wake up call to such fans - sports is not the ultimate - people's lives, health and safety should matter more than a winning season.
I truly appreciated Rick Reilly's piece on ESPN admitting that he too formerly admired Paterno to his current chagrin. Reilly however is more conscientious than the mass of Penn State sports fans since he had also supported Penn State's firing of Paterno. I also am impressed that Nike took a stance and removed Paterno's name from its child development center. What I am not impressed with are the many who still want to praise Paterno and preserve the football culture at Penn State. To you I say:
-Anyone who has knowledge of child molestation being facilitated under his nose by a member of his staff does not deserve to be honored. You can still think he's a great coach, but don't hold him up as a great man.
- Continue being a football fan and cheering for Penn State, but accept any consequences that the program will suffer as a result of over a decade of sexual abuse being covered up. Realize your entertainment is not truly worthy of preservation in the face of the greater social message against sexual abuse and in particular, against college acceptance of sexual violence.
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