The news has been dominated for several days by a sports story that has become bigger than the sports world. Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15 year period. These are some of my thoughts:
- In the blink of an eye the media will be gone but the people and the scars will remain. For most of America this is just a story in an ongoing news cycle that will remain front page until the next disaster, tragedy, trial, election, scandal, etc happens. Just go back and you’ll see what I mean. Think of the stories that were on every news show, in every paper, on every blog - that once they cycled out we cease to care about them. In one sense it is nice to be connected and to have a “smaller world”, in another it tends to make us more disconnected with those closest to us and connected to those we can do virtually nothing to help other than grieve a grief they never know is being grieved for them. Live zoo animals released in Ohio gives way to Michael Jackson’s doctors trial, gives way to the latest gap by a Republican political campaign, to a weather event in New York. to the NBA lockout...where are they now? When’s the last time you heard something on Tuscaloosa, on the Japan nuclear reactors, etc, etc, etc. Having been on the other side of these stories (we’ve all been) a few times it is painful to realize that long after the cameras have gotten interested in a sexier story and the American public has lost interest in this one, long after they’ve interviewed every man, woman, plant and animal within 100 miles of Happy Valley who will allow themselves to be on a screen the pain of the abused will remain.
- We all fall: We don’t want to believe it but we all do. The bigger the personality or institution the bigger the bombshell. If it’d been a little league in a small town it wouldn’t have dominated the headlines for a week now. If I’d asked you to list the top 10 people involved in sports that you’d least expected to be involved in a scandal, if you didn’t list JoPaw, when someone else did, you would have agreed. He was “legendarily” squeaky clean. The Big Ten will play it’s first conference championship in two weeks and the trophy was named after him (a reminder from Dennis Loyd to me years ago: never name something after someone still alive). Joe Paterno? It struck me, even his house was humble. But we shouldn’t be shocked - God told us this 2,000 years ago (Romans 3:23).
- Will we ever learn to stop putting people on pedestals. Love them, respect them, learn from them but never worship them.
- Pedophiles will gravitate to where kids are: Little leagues, schools, churches and civic organizations are full of Jerry Sandusky’s. The problem is they are nigh unto impossible to spot. Sandusky is a respected two time assistant national coach of the year, he and his wife have adopted six children and he started a program to help underprivileged children. Yes, pedophiles gravitate to where kids are - but so do people who genuinely have a heart for helping children! A single male friend of mine serves on a camp board and owns his own business - that doesn’t mean he is guilty of anything. Don’t let the Sandusky’s of the world make you become a cynic.
- I am confused: Joe Paterno, the AD, the President all resigned. What about the police who interviewed and found he was guilty, the parents who decided not to pursue it, the janitors, the other coaches???
- I want to say that this most should be a wake up call to each of us that we too can fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). You never get to big, old, popular, respected to keep satan from pursuing you - he’s a lion, a snake, a liar, and he doesn’t play by the rules. Do not be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). he knows your vice and is determined to use it to harm your family, reputation, ministry, faith, record. A winner can become a loser in the blink of an eye. We all need grace and mercy for we are all human.