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Esme’s Blog: Penn State And The Culture of Winning

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(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There has been much written about the fall of Coach Joe Paterno and the shocking sexual abuse scandal that was allowed to continue for years despite eyewitnesses seeing sexual assaults on children.

An appropriate comparison has been made to the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church. But the Penn State nightmare is also an example of how, when it comes to athletic excellence, all is often brushed under the rug. It starts early. The star athlete who can’t make it to practice, but is allowed to start because of his prowess.

In school, these athletes are shoved along, stroked at every turn because everyone knows they will someday earn a scholarship or perhaps even a professional pay check. The culture of athletic success has its well documented down sides, which include academic scandals, criminal behavior and an out-right arrogance that a sense of unbridled entitlement brings.

It is this culture that puts winning ahead of the basic need for all children to be protected that is so shocking about the Penn State scandal. The outrage that has accompanied this particular case, especially within the main stream sports media, is unparalleled.

If there is any good that can come here, it is the understanding that the culture of protecting star athletes and star coaches is one that can corrupt so absolutely, that grown men could watch children be raped and not rush to help. If there is any good here, it is the knowledge that something like this must never, ever happen again.

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