Thursday, July 26, 2012

Penn State and the Fallacy of Supreme Rule

This week I am going to opt to post a rant from my infinitely wise (in my opinion) second mom. These are views that I could not have stated better myself and therefore will not even try!

"So penalties have been levied against Penn State. They are strong – just short of the death penalty. Maybe they are not strong enough, but, then again, in my opinion, there are no penalties strong enough for Sandusky and the crew covering up these horrendous crimes. I do wish there was a way to punish the perpetrators without injuring the students playing football there, but, often, people only tangentially attached do end up with some of the damage. I do hope that the drama these student-athletes find themselves watching will teach them some lasting and very important life lessons. That, however, is not my rant this morning. Instead it seems to me more important that this whole scenario is viewed as a modern morality story. These are the kind of results we get when we allow great amounts of power to be concentrated with an elite few. It happens not only in sports certainly, but in corporations, politics, religions, institutions of many kinds. We must not sanction unlimited power in the hands of the few…CEOs, religious figures of any stripe, coaches, the very rich. None of them are gods, but, when they are allowed the power/resources/status of such, they will frequently take it and run with it. We have examples galore with politicians, corporate executives, religious leaders, and sports culture figures. And, often, we not only let them proceed, but we encourage that behavior. As much as I love sports, I know for certain that no coach is a god and we do the ultimate disservice to athletes (especially young ones) when we cultivate an environment around them that suggests they are. It can lead to horrendous things like the Penn State tragedy. If there is any positive outcome to this gruesome situation, maybe, just maybe, it will be that institutions will start to examine themselves for the structure and environment that can lead to this sort of thing. We can demonize Penn State (and, for this particular tale, it is probably warranted), but we need to be very clear that the “god” status can develop in many places. Just because we are on the outside looking in at this particular scandal doesn’t mean we are immune. Nothing good comes of concentrated power in the hands of the elite few…never has, never will. Transparency, openness, ability to challenge, and humility are necessary. It’ll be immensely difficult to change these environments, but it is vital that we do so." 

~ Stella

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