A fascinating term. A term that is rarely used in sports as we all conspire — media and fan alike — to envision the athlete as a piece of highly-polished, well-oiled and remarkably efficient machinery that performs with aplomb and consistency.
No, I did not say that the NFL or NBA drafts invoke memories of slave auctions or that the current state of professional sports training or college recruitment tactics are worthy of the moniker “inhumane.” All I’m saying is that humane is a term that we rarely see or hear within a professional sports context.
Except for if you have been following the criminal trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Facing a battery of lurid and squeamish allegations of steady and uninterrupted instances of sexual child abuse publicly, we also learn that Sandusky has faced these same allegations before.
A report aired June 11, 2012 on NBC’s “The Today Show” cited a 2001 email exchange between top Penn State officials indicating that said officials apparently knew of or learned of such allegations many years ago, but in their better judgment thought that it would be “humane” to Jerry Sandusky to not come forward and report to the police the allegations of child sexual molestation.
According to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, former University Vice-President Gary Schultz also kept a secret file on Sandusky about allegations of sex abuse. The Pittsburh Post Gazette called it an “email bombshell.”
Just to be clear, allow us to review what I just wrote and what you just read. In order to be “humane” to an allegedly respected football coach, it was best not to go to the police with information that would require an investigation and possibly bring negative publicity to an allegedly national powerhouse.
By being so “humane,” several young children who came from troubled backgrounds only are now allegedly saddled with untold years of unlimited additional psychological torment. Confusion. Pain. Anguish. Humiliation. The kids involved did not have a choice in the matter. But the adults involved did.
I along with you was not there, and realize that it is easier for us to play “Monday Morning Quarterback” and second-guess everything that happened previously.
However, a consistent theme found in this story is problematic in that it exposes a gross inconsistency. When we talk about white power and privilege within a sports context, we are accustomed to the “media” or mostly white males on a daily basis taking to task young men of color who fail to recognize authority, display proper body language and otherwise abuse their golden opportunities by opting to violate the law instead.
Again, consistency is in order. For while Sandusky was allegedly going beyond the pale of abusing authority, body language and the law, he was not punished, but rather was rewarded with even more access to more kids.
But let us not cast the die completely on Penn State.
What is happening currently as the “media” or mostly white males report upon the case?
This story does not just concern a lone jackal, but a pack of elderly white men with authoritative voices who chose silence. This story has also seemed to be downplayed or buried by many in national sports media. Sports Illustrated’s website did not report the “cover up” angle at all. ESPN — not one shy of controversy — mildly mentioned: “Documents Contradict PSU Brass Testimony.” Yahoo! Sports buried the following paragraph deep in an article about the first day of testimony:
“Also Monday, Penn State acknowledged an NBC report about an email exchange between top university officials regarding accusations by assistant coach Mike McQueary that Sandusky raped another victim. Former school president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz decided that not alerting the police would be “humane” to Sandusky.”
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