Written by Guest Author, Craig Dauman
As I opened ESPN’s website, as I often do to catch up on the daily changes and developments in sports, I noticed their top link was to an article titled, “Penn St.: Donations 2nd highest in history.” I thought that was odd. I had never seen ESPN create an article about school funding before, unless it was directly related to a single, large donation going towards a stadium renovation or something similar. It even had a video associated with it. I decided to check it out. “Video: Examining Paterno’s Legacy.” Weird, I thought this was an article about Penn State’s funding. As I read on, there was a lot of information about the $208 million in donations for the fiscal year, and there was even a blurb about the “annual student-organized dance marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer patients and research.” Then what has been so typical in every Penn State article, even those not related to athletics: a Sandusky mention. ESPN seamlessly transitioned from Pegula committing $102 million to upgrade PSU Hockey, to Sandusky awaiting sentencing, to mentioning private donations will not be used to pay legal fees. Ah, I understand now. Take something unrelated, like Penn State’s typical general funding, add in a video about Paterno, some commentary about Sandusky, and you have an article brimming with 5000+ comments. I totally get it now, ESPN.
This is where it has been increasingly difficult as a Penn State supporter, as someone who is associated with such a great University and had nothing to do with the victims, Sandusky, or the inactions of some administrators. A mix of lazy journalism, incomplete leaks, and a need to create the biggest story, has fueled the generalized hate for anything Penn State. Social media, from message boards to blogs to twitter, have given a voice to those who are seemingly the most outraged at this situation. But reading through various mediums, a common theme has surfaced: Generalize everything.
Everyone at Penn State worships JoePa like a God. Everyone at Penn State is a huge football fan. Everyone at Penn State knew Sandusky was a pedophile for many years. Everyone at Penn State believes the school’s image is more important than a child’s well-being. Everyone at Penn State thinks giving money will make everything go away.
And what is the consensus among those who are so passionately against the entire University? Give the football program the death penalty! Shut it down for as many years as children were violated! Make Penn State pay $200+ million (the amount collected in general donations this fiscal year) to the victims! The ironic thing about the people so fervently demanding these responses is they never once mention the victims,but instead put the focus of heinous crimes on the football program and money. People are so quick to point out how Penn State doesn’t care about the victims because about 2% of the student population of main campus took to the streets when Joe Paterno was fired—at the time, in a cowardly way, without clear facts to back up the decision. Roughly 98% of the school didn’t participate in the “riot,” but grouping the entire community together is a better narrative. Same with the candlelight vigil held a few days later. It dwarfed the size of the “riot,” but that was “simply a PR move.” Because, you know, 18-22 year olds apparently didn’t have the foresight to think of how the national media would react to their public outrage at Paterno’s firing, but instantly multiplied, morphed into PR savants and held a vigil merely as a stunt, right? I guess in 1977, THON was created strictly for PR purposes and the $88 million raised for children with cancer doesn’t mean a thing. Right…