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The Penn State scandal echoes a hockey horror


Every once in a while we hardcore sports fans are reminded of our childish immaturity.

How else can you describe adults who spend a good part of their lives watching, listening, and discussing other adults who play games with sticks and balls, hoops and pucks? Games, and only games, are exactly what they are playing.

Considering the horror that is the Penn State scandal, I find it impossible to write an article discussing my favorite hockey team, the L.A. Kings, or any other sports topic. To do so would land somewhere between offensive and embarrassing.

Can any human being care about a hockey team's losing streak after reading the Sandusky Grand Jury Report?

Do I criticize Terry Murray while Joe Paterno is joining a pep rally outside his house?

How is Dustin Penner a problem when PSU President Graham Spanier "unconditionally supports" his alleged perjurers while not recognizing victims and their families?

Where does ANYTHING matter when one of the nation's holiest sports institutions harbored, enabled, and excused a monster who allegedly molested children for more than a decade?

Understandably, there has been a whirlwind of emotion and opinion regarding PSU. Here's mine:

If what we know is what we think we know, Penn State Football should be shuttered. If the NCAA's standard for the "Death Penalty" is SMU's covering up of "recruiting violations" how can there ever be another game at Happy Valley?

There will be a time to care about sports again, but it will take a while. What will help is those who are legally liable in the Sandusky case being brought to justice, those who are morally liable shamed by society, and the healing passage of time. (At least for those of us who were not personally affected.)

Full disclosure: while writing this article the Kings and Predators are on the tube, but the sound is off. As I struggle with words, my mind swings between the unimaginable suffering of those children and the evil that was Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State palace guard.

I also feel some need to recognize the courageous Theoren Fleury who made public his abuse by Graham James, the junior hockey coach who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after two of his former players, including Sheldon Kennedy, spoke up about what they had endured from 1984 to 1995. Fleury, and many other people. were outraged when James received a pardon in 2007.

I'm not a religious man, but I pray for whatever healing a victim of a pedophile can undergo. May there also be a forever ring of suffering, deep in Dante's Inferno, for those who destroy our children.

SI Vault:Every Parent's Nightmare (9/13/99)

The games will go on, and we will move back into our usual fanaticism over our ultimately childish and irrelevant obsession that is sports.

And there you go. That's it.

Songwriter John Ondrasik is the voice and creative force behind the platinum-selling band Five For Fighting.