In Wake of Penn State, Beware of Collective Guilt

NY Timesman Joe Nocera is just one of many now claiming that Penn State should forego bowl games, cancel the next football season, or abolish its football program altogether in the wake of the Sandusky Shame. My mental clay’s still wet on that one,  but in the early going I’ve got to confess some unease at the notion of collective guilt being tossed around here.

Punish the horse-playing Sandusky if he’s proven guilty? You bet. Toss the school’s president and the sainted JoePa? Okay. But as my dozens of readers know, I’ve always had a problem with blaming entire classes of people for the actions of a relative few. Blame all blacks for the black criminal class? Blame all Muslims for the Islamo-jihadist fringe? Blame all Tea Partiers for the racism of a few? It doesn’t seem right.

Already, the Penn State shame has gotten mashed up with two other worthwhile subjects: The alleged overemphasis on sports in America, a complaint not limited to wives on Sunday afternoons; and the absurd fiction of the “scholar-athlete” at places like Penn State, UT-Austin, and other football factories. Both topics deserve brow-furrowing, but they’re not synonymous with what happened in Happy Valley.


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