Attack of the Penn State Jock Worshippers!

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Penn State interim president Rodney Erickson is a piece of garbage.

In the wake of the child rape story, in which football coach Jerry Sandusky at Penn State is alleged to have raped many children, Erickson elected to post a video on YouTube.

It takes him literally all of ten seconds, after a perfunctory nod to feeling "anger and sorrow" about what happened, to start talking about "moving forward."

Ten seconds.

Mr. Erickson is a moral coward. His grasp of the enormity of what has happened at Penn State is marginally less clueless than the doddering, borderline-dementia drooling of Joe Paterno. (He also has disallowed comments on his video. Way to win the PR war, Rodney.)

Imagine if it had not been Sandusky who had raped these children, but Penn State's drama coach. Would that week-end's play still go on?

In his video, Erickson claims, "our work remains as vital as ever."

What work is that, Mr. Erickson? There is no work to be done at Penn State other than to spend a few weeks in hell reflecting on what has happened there. That is the only work that the university should be focused on. But then, Rodney Erickson is a lapdog.

Erickson said it was "important to play the game on Saturday." Of course. Football comes first.

The subtext of Erickson's message is the same as the overt message of Penn State students who rioted when Paterno was fired and who paint messages to the coach on their chests: child rape doesn't matter. I mean, sure, it's bad, but we are talking about football here.

In America, football elicits embarrassingly slavish behavior, which is excusable in young boys who love the game but is pathetic in grown men. In some of them it's not that far removed from the Justin Bieber fever of teen-age girls.

I once witnessed this phenomenon. I went to Georgetown Prep, a well-known Jesuit high school in Maryland. At the time Prep had a legendary football program (maybe it still does). The coach was Jim Fegan, who has a deserved five-star reputation in and outside of Washington. I played for Fegan for one year, my senior year, and at a time when I needed some direction he was one of the best influences on my young life.

Coach Fegan created the kind of atmosphere that emphasized the importance of courage, strength based not in dominating the weaker but in facing your opponent with honor and guts on the field, and smaller but equally important things: dressing properly as guests at an away game and treating people with respect.

Abuse of any kind was unthinkable, and there were several men on the coaching staff that I felt completely comfortable with reporting to if I saw anything. And it would have been dealt with the right way. It's worth noting that when Prep did have trouble a few years ago with one priest, the first call was to the police.

Jim Fegan exemplifies the best of American football. I had joined the team after being a troublemaker for a few years in school. Coach Fegan didn't do anything overt, just provided a strong example of how to act with courage and character.

Be polite. Look at a man and shake his hand when you meet him (when did our culture get to the epicene shrug and "howzitgoin' among males?). Shave and tuck your shirt in. Think of being a part of, and representing, something bigger and better than yourself.

I remember how disappointed I was when towards the end of the season I missed a practice because I got detention, or JUG as it's called at Prep. I was disappointed in myself more than anything else. I felt I was letting my teammates down, even though I wasn't contributing much.

I still remember taking the field late and calling out my excuse to the coach and him cutting me off mid sentence: "WE CAN'T HAVE ANY JUG THIS SEASON MR. JUDGE!" Yes sir.

Like all legendary coaches, Fegan had his disciples (my impression was that the coach never paid much attention to the bowing and scraping). One of the worst was a guy I'll call Brother Carlton. If you've ever seen or read The Chocolate War and know who Brother Leon is, you get the picture. Brother Carlton was a football nut.

He was what's called a jock-sniffer, and like most jock-sniffers he was clumsy and had never played the game. But he absolutely worshipped football, and football players. He taught art, and if you weren't a jock, you were nothing. When the star players would walk into his class, Carlton would radiate with sycophantic goo.
He even genuflected before the teen-age quarterback on our team once, in a story that involved me.

Carlton positively hated my guts in the years before I joined the team. I was rebellious, I was into rock and roll, I didn't play football. At football camp one day we were all lined up for lunch, and my best friend did an impression of Carlton. We didn't know it, but the good Brother was standing within earshot. Naturally, he thought that I had been the mimic. He blasted me in front of the entire group.

After, I saw the quarterback, arms waving around, yelling at Carlton. I had been falsely accused. Carlton apologized. It was about as authentic as Penn State president Erickson's concern for the children who were raped at his school.

The point is, there is a dangerous and mindless breed in America, the jock worshipper.

The Penn State crime should signal that its time to challenge its ape-like stupidity. (How long will Redskins fans put up with the abuse of owner Daniel Snyder and continue to whoop for the team?) As some people submerge their identities into politics, others validate themselves through their team, and they wind up excusing anything.

And don't forget the money it brings in. They'll turn Penn State into the Playboy mansion if it keeps the donations rolling.

The year after I graduated from Prep in 1983, the punk band the Dead Kennedys released a song for me that to this day remains the last word on our culture's prostration before the gods of the gridiron. Penn State interim chicken Rodney Erickson and Joe Paterno, not to mention the Gatorade-soaked cerebellums of JoePa's Happy Valley army, should be forced to sing "Jock-O-Rama" live on national television.

Then they should kill the football program:

You really like gorillas?
We've got just the pet for you
It's the way you're forced to act
To survive our schools

Make your whole life revolve around sports
Walk tough don't act too smart
Be a mean machine
Then we'll let you get ahead

Jock-o-rama save my soul
We're under the thumb of the beef patrol
The future of America is in their hands
Watch it roll over niagara falls

Jock-o-rama on the brain
Redneck-a-thon drivin' me insane
The future of America is in their hands
Watch it roll over niagara falls

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