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Values should come before football

How I See It, By Joe McHaney
Jerry Sandusky is a disgusting person, so are those involved with the Penn State University football scandal.
   What has happened at Penn State is an extremely sad and ugly sports storyline -- one you hope to the big one up above that it never occurs again.
   This week the NCAA delivered a strict punishment to Penn State University. The institution has been fined $60 million, a four-year football postseason ban and all wins (111 vacated) dating to 1998 will be stripped.
   With the wins from 1998-2011 vacated, legendary Penn State University coach Joe Paterno moves from 409 wins to 298, dropping him from first to 12th on the winningest NCAA football coach list. Penn State also will have six bowl wins and two conference championships erased.
   Penn State also must reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period. In addition, the Penn State athletic program will be put on a five-year probation and must work with an athletic-integrity monitor of NCAA's choosing. Any current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school.
   The punishment was stern, it was powerful, swift and it was needed. I don't feel one bit sorry for the Penn State punishment, but it's hard to not feel bad for current players, students and faculty not at all associated with the nonsense that has occurred on their campus. Thanks to Sandusky and his wrong doings, their lives have now been affected.
   If I was a player, I'd transfer tomorrow, and current players will be able to do just that without facing eligibility sanctions. There is no reason to stay. Penn State lied to them, and current players deserve to play for something such as conference championships, bowl games and be part of a program that conducts itself in a respectable manner.
   Sandusky, who was recently convicted of 45 of 48 counts charging him with abusing 10 boys over 15 years, is at the head of the scandal. While what he did makes your stomach turn, those that knew about his actions and aided in the cover up should also be punished to the fullest degree.
   Why, why would one do what Sandusky did? Why would anyone who willing knew of Sandusky's actions or even had a sense of what has happening keep a lid on the subject matter?
   Those questions remain to be answered, but it's obvious they were trying to protect one of the most powerful and notorious NCAA football programs in the country. Their program, so they thought, had become bigger than the game, and now 15 years later we have learned that hundreds of lives will forever be altered because they let a football game become larger than fundamental quality values that we as United States citizens should live by every day.
   Prior to the unraveling of the Sandusky scandal, Penn State was mighty. They were coached by arguably the best of all time in Paterno. Penn State products like former greats Franco Harris or Jack Ham to more recent sensations such as LaVar Arrington or Paul Posluszny gave Penn State an image that they were tough, hard-nosed and a program that did things the right way.
   They fooled us. Penn State proved what is wrong with sports today. Their football program is a prime example of how sporting games of any kind have risen to such a level that often times players, coaches and even fans become so absorbed in it that we lose focus of our values.
   Should we become angry at a person because he/she is a fan of the Oregon State University Beavers or the University of Oregon Ducks? No, but we do, and I myself have nearly gone toe to toe with close friends arguing about college football. Looking back, I ask myself why I did those things, but like many passionate fans, sports give us something to root for, believe in and attach ourselves to in order to feel a sense of accomplishment.
   Is the University of Oregon or Oregon State University football programs what we think they are today? If I would have asked you that question about the Penn State football program five years ago or even asked myself that question, I would have answered yes because I'd never heard of anything negative associated with the program.
   So how do we move forward? What is it that we should learn from this unfortunate and sad situation that has come to surface at Penn State?
   What we need to do is step back and remember that in this case, college football is a game. It should not be a business corporation that's sole purpose is to win games and win at all costs. We can not allow college football progams to conduct themselves in a manner that's above the law. We can't let them become so powerful that we tie ourselves emotionally to them and overlook quality values, resulting in victoms.
   We need to remember that just because a person wears orange and black in support of OSU that they're not a hick and a bad person, or that just because a person wears green in support of UO that they are not arrogant or horrid.
   Yes, it's fun to banter back and forth at one another in support of "our" football programs and what makes college football so special is the emotion that millions of us pour into the game. But, we can't allow this spectacular game to become bigger than our values. We can't let children, players or anyone become victims of sexual assault like the victims of Sandusky.
   We live in a crazy world, one that features movie theater shootings by a person who appears to be mimicking the "Joker," but I don't want to live in fear. I don't want to toss on an OSU T-shirt questioning whether or not the program is conducting itself by the book.
   What needs to happen as we move forward from the Penn State scandal is hold football programs accountable. Something has to happen in order to ground all of them across the nation. We can't as a society allow programs like the University of Alabama - arguably the best in the country -- to function while covering up crimes and misconduct. I'm not saying the University of Alabama is acting inappropriately, but they have become so big and so powerful, that you hope people don't try to protect the program at all costs like Penn State did.
   The NCAA needs to form a system that strictly monitors every one of its athletic programs to prevent what has happened at Penn State. Can you imagine the pain and suffering that could have been prevented had a system been in place that uncovered a stone at Penn State that led to Sandusky's horrific conduct?
   College football is an amazing game, but obviously it's flawed, and I'm not talking about its national championship system. Programs have been built to such power that core values have been overlooked. Don't be fooled and think that Penn State is the only football program that's brushed misconduct under the rug.
   Let's find a way to clean things up, so we can enjoy a game where there are no more victims of misconduct.