Sportsmanship? Character? … WIN AT ALL COSTS! … (Part II)

Nick’s note:  Wow… my last words at the end of Part I were ” Read on in Part II… to follow very soon.”  “Very soon” turned into six weeks.  Oops.  In a nutshell, a week of job-related training, a week of being sick, a week and a half of my laptop being sick (had to go get professionally debugged), Christmas hullaballoo, and Ryan coming home on leave led to an extensive delay.

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Penn State. 

I want to write about this… and I don’t.  The whole, horrible story makes me sick.

Where to start?  The victims.  I pray for the victims to find peace and healing, and if that requires money, Penn State should pay through the nose.  It’s going to be expensive.  That’s called chickens coming home to roost.  Karma.  Justice.  The coverup always does more damage (at least in the university’s case) than the offense.

Unfortunately, because there is going to be money paid out, there will be false “victims” seeking a slice of the pie.  It always happens in prominent scandals like this… another sad statement on the sickness of our society.  I hope they get caught, humiliated, and prosecuted if possible.

On to the enablers… the numerous, nauseating enablers who are the real heart of what makes this sad, horrifying situation the story that it is.  After all, predators like Jerry Sandusky are a dime a dozen.  Unfortunately, they’re so commonplace that, by themselves, they’re hardly news.  What makes this story stand out is the sheer number of supposedly good, professional, respectable people who looked the other way while this monster committed his foul deeds… including one who was frequently referred to by many people as “the great man”.

Joe Paterno… “the great man” [another stellar example of the need for a sarcasm font] … should go to prison.  I don’t care if he is 85 years old.  And I don’t care for any of his other excuses put out by him or his many apologists.  The notion that he did the bare minimum he was required to do — that he was just an employee who reported to his superiors and therefore had no responsibility or capability to do more — is, pardon my language, bullshit.  “Joe Pa” was, for lack of a better term, a god at Penn State University.  He could’ve handled it any way he wanted to.  He chose to protect the program and his reputation.  He should go to prison for his criminal negligence in failing to stop Sandusky.

All the other Penn State officials that knew and did nothing should also go to prison.  They made their choices when they participated in the coverup.

Mike McQueary … wow, I can’t despise this man enough.  His statements to the press and public have been constantly shifting, and don’t match his official statements to the police and grand jury.  “I did stop it, not physically, but I made sure it stopped.”  Sandusky stopped because he realized he had a witness, not because of any action taken by McQueary… who then ran to his daddy to ask him what he should do.  McQueary’s constant whining that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he “did the right thing” is the desperate cry of a deservedly guilty conscience.  He witnessed a 60 year old man raping a boy that he himself described as appearing to be 10 years old… and did nothing.  Prison?  Absolutely.

And what of Dottie Sandusky, the wife?  If the testimony of Victim # 9 is to be believed, Mrs. Sandusky had to have known of her husband’s activities.  (# 9 testified that he screamed for help at a time that he knew she was in the house, but no help came.)  If she knew, she’s as guilty as the rest.

Jerry Sandusky… what can I say… I’d wish this monster a long and nasty prison sentence, except that I wouldn’t mind at all if another monster cut his life short in prison (à la Jeffrey Dahmer).  After that… burn in hell, Sandusky.

For anyone still doubting his guilt, consider the following:  In addition to the accounts of the victims, you have the eyewitness testimony of McQueary and others (there was another criminal act witnessed by janitors).  To listen to this man proclaim his innocence while attempting increasingly implausible explanations for what others have described (“wrestling”, “massages”, “horseplay”, “blowing on bellies”, “teaching poor kids how to wash themselves properly”) is to wish the scumbag would shut the hell up and find it in himself to end his miserable, worthless life.

Sportsmanship? Character? … WIN AT ALL COSTS! … (Part I)

Nick’s note:  I started writing this blog post before the Penn State story broke.  Talk about sadly ironic timing.  I think I want to continue to write the blog post I intended to write, because it’s important, even if it’s not tragic on the scale of the other story (and by tragic, I refer to the victims, not the predator or his numerous criminal enablers).  Then I’ll write on the really ugly story.  No funny pictures to go with this one… it has me in a somber mood.

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  A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that her 10 year old son was playing his final Pop Warner football game of the season.  A championship game.
  The other team showed up and it was discovered that the other coach had “padded” his roster with the best players from a few other teams.  Of course, they had to forfeit the game; after the other coach tried unsuccessfully to lie his way out of it.  Then he allowed his players to talk trash to the team that followed the rules.
  It’s sad to see how often children’s sports are ruined by adults who don’t understand that when all is said and done, it is just a game.  Whether by cheating, or otherwise displaying poor sportmanship … or by sacrificing the happiness of what should be a fun experience by an over-emphasis on excellence, “adults” are ruining kids’ sports and teaching them all the wrong lessons.
  Before I go any further, let me say I’m not one of these ‘self-esteem’ yahoos that believe there should be no winners and losers – no keeping score, even – so that everyone can come out a winner.  Far from it.  Life has winners and losers,  and that’s a lesson that should be learned early.  Otherwise, your children might wind up in an “Occupy” protest, sporting dreadlocks, pounding on tomtoms, and whining about how unfair life is.
   I should also be up front about my sports experience.  As a child: one or two seasons of Little League baseball, one season of soccer, football in 7th grade, a few boxing lessons.  Not very extensive compared to some kids.  As a parent: one season of Little League and a “season” or so of karate lessons.  Still, you don’t have to be an expert to see the problems. 
   You hear about stories like my friend’s.  You read about them in the news if they’re notable enough.  And you see the parents at the games, usually the dads, but not always (and the parents I’m talking about here are mostly in the minority, but they’re the ones ruining it for everyone). 
   You see the fathers screaming at their sons… demanding perfection… defining their father-son relationship, and their son’s sense of self worth, through their ability to throw, catch, or hit a ball.  You see the parents who yell at the coach for not playing their child enough.  You see the ones who run their mouths at the children on the other team.  Sad, and so immature.
   Or you find it in more subtle ways.  I was reading an online forum some time ago where baseball dads were writing about the difference between open leagues and select leagues.  For those of you that don’t know, open leagues are like the Little League we grew up with; everyone can sign up (whether everyone plays is dependent on the coach and his attitude on the whole fun vs winning issue).  Additionally, these leagues tend to operate a little closer to home and are thus more community-oriented. 
  Select leagues are more “professional”.  The kids have to try out, and only those who those who have the skills make the cut.  Also, it  can be quite expensive (entry fees, equipment, travel costs, etc); some boys could have the athletic skills, but be excluded because their parents don’t have the financial means.

  Anyhow, it fascinated me… in a bad way, like a train wreck.  Here’s why: 
  Almost unanimously, the baseball dads agreed that open leagues were more character-building.  I see where they’re going here.  Kids of different ability levels, you’re going to win some and lose some, but if the coaches have character, the kids will have fun and learn teamwork despite the different skill levels.    
   As for select leagues, the dads agreed that they were better for the developing their boys as players, honing their athletic skills by playing with and against superior athletes.  I understand this point too.

   Now here’s the part that really bothers me.   I saw the same pattern repeated again and again in these comments, until I quit reading in disgust.  These men repeatedly said that the open leagues were better for building character and that the select leagues were better for developing athletes… and almost all of them said the preferred the select leagues. 
   REALLY?!?
   Really?  That makes my heart hurt.  In so many words, again and again, most of them said that it was more important to develop their sons as baseball players than to build character.  Where are their priorites?  Oh, I’m sure that if confronted with the shameless irony of what they had just said, they’d hem and haw and find excuses.  They teach character themselves…. in other ways…
   Wrong.  They’d be lying to themselves.  And they do it because they know, deep down, that these are the lessons they’re not supposed to be teaching their children.  But they go against what they know to be right because they get all caught up in winning and being the best as the only things that matter… most often driven by the desire to live vicariously through their sons. 
   The win at all costs mentality teaches the wrong lessons and the exact opposite of sportsmanship and character.  Want proof?  Penn State.
   Read on in Part II… to follow very soon.