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We’re Not in Happy Valley Anymore

If I could draw, I would draft a cartoon parodying the actors in the Penn State pedophilia/football mess as the characters from the Wizard of Oz.  The character traits of L. Frank Baum’s story of populism in the Midwest fits. Since I cannot draw, I’ll use 1,000 words to paint the picture.

Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, would be the all-powerful Oz, dealing in illusion. Emmert levied a $60 million fine against the Pennsylvania State University this past Monday morning for everything having to do with the scandal.

It’s like a papal indulgence. Pay and you are forgiven. And the comparison to the Catholic Church is purposeful. I hope everyone saw how a Pennsylvania court just gave Monsignor William Lynn three-to-six years of hard time for allowing pedophiles to roam free in the Catholic hierarchy.

The irony that this Catholic official was sentenced in Pennsylvania should not be lost on anyone. There will be no six year sentence doled out to a Penn State bureaucrat who helped cover a pedophile’s tracks. That Penn State accepted the NCAA fine without question shows how badly the University wants to move past this without real inquiry.

The NCAA immediately became prosecutor, judge and jury. Let’s skip due process. As a private, administrative body, the NCAA doesn’t even have to give the minimum appearance of constitutional protections to the accused.

But how does the NCAA gain the power to act in such a manner and levy such a fine – the equivalent of the gross cash receipts of one year of Penn State football? It doesn’t. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

The NCAA has an empire of slave labor to protect and preside over. Beyond that, thousands of innocents in Happy Valley rely on Penn State football for a living. What would happen if the NCAA gave the death penalty to Penn State football? What would become of the people who earn enough to eat from hawking t-shirts or parking cars or waiting tables? We don’t want to hurt them, right?

Of course not. This economy is what gave the power to Monsignors like Paterno to cover the whole sordid affair up. The people who will pay the price of the Great Oz’s $60 million thunderbolt are students at a public school. I hope some Penn State gymnast or track runner whose scholarship gets axed because of this fine figures out a way to sue the NCAA over its power grab.

Any politician who fails to challenge the NCAA’s grab could be the brainless scarecrow, but that special title belongs to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. As Pennsylvania attorney general, Corbett “assigned” people to investigate the allegations Sandusky raped little boys in a state locker room, but he failed to unravel the riddle of the cover-up of Sandusky’s abuse. Instead, he whiled away the hours, conversing with donors who sat on the PSU board of trustees.

The late, disgraced Penn State coach Joe Paterno would be the Cowardly Lion, afraid to do the right thing. I grew up with an autographed photo of Joe Paterno on our basement wall. My father, Jim Krayeske, was a school teacher and football coach and during the summers, he ran sports clinics.

He used to run the National Football Clinic at Convention Hall in Atlantic City in the mid-1970s. Autographed black and white photos of football immortals he met there lined the walls of our basement playroom. Lou Holtz. Weeb Ewbank. John Madden. Andy Robustelli. George Allen.

One photo shows my dad standing next to Larry McHugh and Joe Paterno, and someone else my dad doesn’t remember. Paterno spoke at the National Football Clinic in 1975, 1976 or 1977.

Unlike Penn State that removed the statue of Joe Paterno, my dad won’t be taking down the photo of Joe Pa off his wall.  “That was a happier time,” my dad said today. “I knew him under different circumstances. I kept in contact with him through the years.”

My a believer in the religion of football, is upset by all that has happened at Penn State.

“I agonize over the whole thing,” my dad said. “It hurts football. I’m sorry to see Penn State take Joe’s statue down. Joe Paterno for 40 years was Penn State. He was helpful to me. I am surprised that more members of teams that played for Joe haven’t come forward yet.”

My father didn’t remember if convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky spoke at the clinic.  Larry McHugh is now the president of the Board of Trustees at the University of Connecticut.  I put a call into him at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce for a comment. I don’t expect a call back. Even though I am Jimmy’s son, I tussled with a different Jimmy who McHugh must bow to.

And isn’t that the problem? Universities bowing to professional entertainers in their midst, defiling academic inquiry with pursuit of profit from unpaid labor?

The convicted pedophile and former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky would be the Tin Woodsman, with an uncontrollable phallic nose and no heart whatsoever.

My father said he would’ve fired Sandusky if he knew what was happening. My dad coached football for more than two decades. Back in the 1960s, my dad started two programs that continue today, one at Watertown High School and one at Western Connecticut State University.

My dad actually got fired from one job because he accidentally caught a married boss en flagrante with a secretary on school grounds. I trust that he wouldn’t have tolerated Sandusky. But Paterno did. Why?

Who want to upset the apple cart? Not the cowardly lion. Or the scarecrow. Or the tin woodsman.  Dorothy would be all the children that the Tin Man Sandusky abused. Dorothy was too scared, too silenced, their mouths taped the same way the movie directors made Judy Garland tape her breasts down during the 1939 filming of the movie.

Who is Toto, pulling back the curtain to reveal the truth of this sordid affair? Certainly not Louis Freeh, the FBI director who wrote the damning report. Freeh is one of the flying monkeys. Toto is played by all the people who stepped forward but ignored by the power structure, like the graduate quarterback coach who saw and told but was shut down.

And who are we, those who watch college football every Saturday afternoon, demanding that children who aspire to be men sacrifice their bodies for our pleasure? We are all the wicked witch of the West. We will get them, our little pretties.

We are the ones who pay the ticket prices, buy into the bowl game madness, and demand more from national championships from the Nittany Lions. We have our flying monkeys like Freeh and ESPN reporters delivering us sideline news reports of what is happening, but we do not stop the injustice of college sports. We enjoy the drama.

In some cruel way, it should not surprise that Joe Paterno and the entire hierarchy at Penn State let a child sex predator roam loose for decades.  What is big-time college football but an animal that preys on young men? The Tin Man Sandusky, then, is just a sexual personification of this lust for glory on the gridiron.

There is no Glenda the Good Witch here. There is no fairy godmother to give us ruby slippers that will magically take back to innocence in Kansas. The Jayhawks have their own NCAA sanctions to deal with. There will be no justice here. Only a $60 million tornado to make us forget before the first kickoff.

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