Even though I have lived now in PA for almost a dozen years, I have yet to get caught up in Penn State football mania. My interest in sports has greatly diminished over the years and I just can’t get excited about it any more. But I DO still like watching whatever good college football game is on Saturday afternoon. It is fun to watch – and there isn’t anything wrong with having some fun!
But it is difficult to not get caught up in all the events surrounding the recent Sandusky convictions and the terrible drama sweeping through the Penn State institution. It certainly is extremely sad. But, as I keep telling everyone, it certainly isn’t shocking. People are bad. What is new about that? If priests can do terrible things, why not jocks? Even “Happy Valley” jocks, who are supposed to be standing for all things “good” and noble and sportsmanlike, are still prone to every vice and sin that everyone else has – perhaps more-so!
A few thoughts:
+ Perhaps we need to rethink our priorities if a football team (a FOOTBALL team!) so dominates an “educational” institution that when it gets taken away or crippled the whole school (and the whole state!) reels in despair.
+ The general rule of thumb is not to make anyone your hero until after they die – as they will surely disappoint you. The NEXT rule of thumb that we are learning is that it is even dangerous to have a dead hero. Even dead ones can disappoint! It is MUCH better to stick with keeping our eyes and affections on Jesus Christ. To put any stock in ANY man is folly.
+ At first I was quite taken aback by the NCAA sanctions on the Penn State. I wasn’t really sure it was “fair” that the rest of the university had to suffer so much for the sins of so few people. But on further reflection I am not quite so dismayed.
- Not very many things in life are “fair” from our self centered perspective. Take original sin and our natural human condition. Is it “fair” that we suffer for the sins of Adam and Eve? How about the sins of our father and mother? We all suffer the sins of our politicians as well! The list goes on and on. And certainly we cringe at the thought that our own temporal sins (no matter how minor) have eternal consequences! And then how fair is it that Christ bore, in himself, our sin? The sinless son of God “became sin for us”, taking upon himself our eternal suffering and death!!!! In the end, when you think about it, the NCAA punishments certainly weren’t fair. The punishment should have been much greater! But the judgement of man pales in the face of God’s judgement. We will have to wait for judgement day for the final accounting.
- This debacle is also demonstrating for us much about corporate sin. The reality is that Joe Pa and those few administrators that “actually” sinned (sins of omission) reflected the corporate sin of the university and society as a whole: you and I together! We ALL have a measure of responsibility for their sins… in the face of evil WE lie silent… WE do not teach our children well the ways of the Lord… etc.! You could say that WE, in a sense, put so much pressure on the administrators to “succeed” that they felt they had no other choice but to keep silent. We are all in this together – no doubt about it!
- Finally, I am slightly hopeful that these sanctions might JUST be enough to ACTUALLY convince whoever else is doing wrong in the college football world that it really IS more beneficial to do the right thing instead of the wrong. I think it has just been way to easy for these sports programs to cheat and do wrong – and suffer some minor consequences when they get caught – than do the right thing. You want to think that carrots are enough to keep people in line. Maybe we need sticks. Or a club.
Maybe there will be football in the REAL happy valley of heaven! I hope so! I always wanted to be able to throw a real spiral!