This past month has been one of the most trying in sports history. The scandal shrouding Penn State University has permanently marred a historic institution and has sent one of the most legendary coaches in sporting history into exile.
Now America has turned its attention to Syracuse University and its basketball program. While the charges levied against former assistant coach Bernie Fine are nowhere as numerous, they are equally appalling.
Sexual abuse against a child is a crime of unrivaled cruelty. As a coach, you have a responsibility to be a better person. You have a direct influence on the players and personnel around you. They look to you as a model of behavior. They instill a trust and belief in you reserved for very few.
If the allegations Fine and Jerry Sandusky are facing are true, then they have cemented their places in history. It doesn’t matter how many games they win, how many all-star players they help produce or how revered they were in their previous lives. These two men, and those like them, are condemned to a brand that will never fade.
Even if found innocent of their charges, their names will forever be synonymous with the most grotesque human behavior. As quick as man is to rush to judgment, rest assured it will take much longer to convince him of anything to the contrary.
One of the most disturbing aspects of these cases are peoples’ willingness to cover up instead of uncover what is happening. As we have seen with the Sandusky case, the level of involvement in these tragedies goes much deeper than perpetrator and victim.
Fine’s wife Laurie was recorded making statements that acknowledged of her husband’s problems. Not only was she aware of her husband’s actions, she had her own sexual relationship with Davis.
According to reporter Mark Schwarz, ESPN has been in possession of the taped conversation between Davis and Fine for the past eight years. Because those who knew about the tape at ESPN did not have access to a second victim, they kept the tape because they did not know what to do with it.
"We don’t see it as our job to go to authorities with evidence that we collect," Schwarz said.
Schwarz adds that ESPN was also reluctant to reveal the tape because no one from ESPN witnessed anything firsthand.
The disgustingly obvious theme between these tragedies is the lack of accountability. There were people at each university with knowledge of the respective situations, yet it has taken years for any of it to ooze out. Not a shred of innocence was spared in any of the victims involved because no one took it upon themselves to end it.
It is a menacing world that we live in. We are surrounded by seemingly normal people who turn into absolute terrors behind closed doors. Too many innocent people have been on the wrong side of those doors, and too many opportunities have passed where they could have been saved. It’s not about being the hero, it’s about being a morally competent human being.