Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ripples at Penn State

I understand the outrage among many at Penn State over the punishment leveled by the NCAA. I get it. It will fall on the backs of the innocent. I'm not so naive as to think that all of that $60 million is coming from the football program. College funds are fungible, after all. I don't know how many extracurricular clubs and academic programs will see their funding cut in order to cushion the blow to the football program (which, let's be honest, built PSU into what it is today; it would probably be even more podunk than Illinois State without Joe Paterno), but it will be more than a few. A lot of innocent people who had nothing to do with this scandal are going to suffer from this punishment leveled at people in leadership. I understand their concerns.

The sad fact of the matter, however is that this is just another feature of evil committed by those in leadership. It is the same with the Catholic Church predatory priest scandals (to which Jerry Sandusky's actions and the CYA actions of Joe Paterno and Penn State bear an uncomfortably keen resemblance). Because the institution itself was corrupted by the scandal, the institution itself will have to bear a large part of the punishment. It would be wonderful if we could act like Arthur in "The Once and Future King" and only go after the ones who gave the orders. Alas, we cannot. There's no way to surgically target lawsuits so they only take money and resources from the people responsible. The effects of sin and evil are rarely limited. They ripple out until they touch and twist thousands upon thousands of lives.

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