Sunday, July 15, 2012

Penn State ...or the State of the Program

James Carville, on "This Week on ABC" took the position that the Penn State Football program should not be gutted as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  He spoke eloquently about all the people who would be hurt by a trash and burn campaign.  At one end of the spectrum were all the contract holders whose businesses depend on Penn State games.  At the other end of the spectrum stood all those scholarship kids whose dreams are tied to a Penn State sport program,  Nowhere in the Carville philosophy is forgiveness for the self-serving fools who let all those crimes and all that harm come to children.  Mr. Carville suggested we turn loose the lawyers and let them feed on the bones of Penn State and all those individuals who deserve to be stripped bare and marched before the public eye.

I agree.

I have always had difficulty with blanket punishments because they inflict pain and suffering on everyone - innocent and guilty.  Everyone who had absolutely nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky and the abuse of children, everyone who had never heard of Jerry Sandusky, everyone who had no knowledge of his crimes and no means to stop and/or prevent them should not be tarred with the same brush as coaches and administrators who saw nothing but dollars signs and the need to protect the program and the profits it generated.  Besides, gutting the program has the effect of diluting the guilt pool. In giving into a punitive blood lust, in slapping down and destroying everything in our path, we lose sight of the individuals who deserve the ignominy of the spotlight.  Every single selfish, self-serving, greedy, morally bankrupt fool who could have stopped harm and injury from visiting even one child should be put in the position of losing everything - reputation, treasure and freedom.

George Will, on the same program, went on to say that “big-time football has no business on college campuses” because it is "inherently corrupting".  If you consider academic sport beyond the immediate Sandusky moment, as Mr. Will was, you face an entirely different subject and, again, I agree.  When you consider that top tier college coaches make more money (by significant margins) than university presidents, when, to but things into perspective, you consider that Albert Einstein, today,  would bank a pittance for the Theory of Relativity compared to the salary and successes of Joe Paterno you can understand why certain highly positioned individuals sought to protect a game before children.  Worse than the injury caused by Jerry Sandusky is the lesson taught every kid in High School and every kid  who makes the collegiate cut. 

My father was a junior high school teacher.  One of the stories he brought home from the classroom - one I am sure many teachers can tell - was of a kid who told him he was waiting to drop out so that he could run drugs for the local dealer.  The kid told him point blank that nothing he could say would change his mind because he (the kid) could make more in a week than he (my father) made in a year?  Without the squalor of drugs, are we sending the same corrupting message to future collegiate gladiators?

I do not have - or offer - answers.  I don't know what they would be.  I just know that present reality doesn't work.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Doldrums

Sitting across from me is the Captain Morgan. Not THE Captain Morgan of happy hour fame but a tour vessel docked by the Sagamore Hotel.  It is a perfect morning, cloudless skies, a bejeweled lake and a gentle breeze to add a little comfort to the heat.  From where I am sitting on the beach in Roger's Park, I can see part of the Sagamore's stately veranda. The Main Building's cupola almost floats above the trees on Green Island. Beyond, the verdant green of the Adirondacks rises from the shores of Lake George.  It is a breathtaking sight and the perfect place to write - something I am anxious to do since the holiday and summer distractions have given me more than a few reasons to be lazy over the last nine days. For the record, that is the lie I have been cultivating from my seat in the sand.

Behind me are some of the distactions.  My grand daughter and my neice are taking a tennis lesson.  Beginner Tennis is like watching - or, in this case, listening to - a t-ball game...a lot of comedy if you're interested in amusing the kids and a lot of pain if you expect to see skill and talent.  Right now, their instructor is asking each seven year old, "What's my most important rule?" The one kid who knows - "Don't swing the racket close to anyone!!" - swings his racket to demonstrate.  The two other kids in my charge, a younger grand daughter and my five year old nephew, are attempting the reinact the Normandy Invasion.  With every manner of plastic contrivance they are attempting to wrest the beach from an entrenched army of early morning gulls.  Somehow, their repeated assaults drive the scavengers in the direction of my beach chair and laptop.

Languishing on the pages of my notebook is Pangea, my alternate reality and principal location for the second novel.  For the last nine days notes and thoughts have not been translated into narrative.  The distant bluffs and promontory that define the Pangean landscape - reminiscent of the Tongue Mountain range - are silent.  For the moment, taking some time to observe summer boaters, scanning the skies for passing ducks and geese and marveling at the occasion Blue Heron, sharing a beer with a summer acquaintance and just finding a reasoned level of calm in an otherwise choatic world, is enough.  That is, afterall, what Pangea is all about.  Peace, tranquilty, harmony and happiness.  At least partially.  It is that aspect-  the "tomorrow" part of the story - that I am "researching" right now.  It is not hard to make the case and accept that all this procrastination is necessary.  Soon, I will have to lumber back to my study and translate research into words.  It is inevitable.  Not to mention necessary.  The steady drumbeat of guilt is getting louder. The summer doldrums will pass.   But not today.  The Gulls have been routed.  It is time for a dip and then a beer...and maybe some soft ice cream for the kids.