With the man the staunchly republican Forbes Magazine calls "The Penn State Pedophile" proclaiming his innocence in a high profile interview with Bob Costas it's good to know that some other folks named Sandusky give football a good name.
When Villanova tackle John Sandusky was drafted by Paul Brown to help Cleveland rumble to a string of NFL titles during the Cold War, the most talked about sexual predator wasn't the closet gay commie hunter Roy Cohn but Lavrenti Beria, the feared KGB boss who was assassinated following the death of Stalin.
John's son Gerry Sandusky is known by millions as the voice of the NFL Baltimore Ravens. Because of the power of online media Gerry has been spending a lot of time explaining he is not the Jerry Sandusky of Happy Valley fame.
The blazing speed at which scandal moves along the information highway saw alleged victims of sexual abuse step forward just hours after the former dean of "Linebacker U." was charged with sex crimes by Pennsylvania authorities. But the thinking behind Sandusky's "locker room horseplay" defense has the hubris to try for a cover-up like the Kremlin ran when they suppressed the real scope of Beria's sexual abuse until 2004, when the regime of ex-KGB man Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin finally took it public.
After all, the Reagan Revolution, which credited itself with defeating the evil Soviet Empire, was supposed to promote openness and transparency. Families in Pennsylvania had little reason to link kids who were part of Jerry Sandusky's The Second Mile program with his alleged misdeeds. He appeared beyond reproach because, like his boss Joe Paterno, his political and social network went all the way to the top. And just like the Johnstown Flood down the road important people knew of the impending danger and did nothing at a tremendous social cost.
Captured on YouTube, coach Joe Paterno's Penn State football team and staff visited the Reagan White House to celebrate their 1986 NCAA national championship. As architect of the Nittany Lion defense that shut down Vinnie Testaverde and his Miami Hurricanes that fateful day in Tempe Jerry Sandusky was a was a big reason the party started.
The Gipper himself hosted the event with vice president George H.W. Bush standing at his side. With both leaders having participated in competitive athletics it's reasonable for one to assume that they had their own basic understanding of the meaning of locker room horseplay, which Jerry Sandusky has rolled out to support his claim of innocence.
As for Joe Paterno, his ties to the Republican party are so strong that in March 2008, when Bill Clinton visited Penn State as part of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign the coach refused to meet the former president. ESPN reported that in his speech Bill Clinton mentioned that Hillary's brother, Hugh, and her father both played on the Nittany Lion football team.
Hugh Rodham was a backup quarterback for Paterno in 1971 and 1972, which makes him part of the Jerry Sandusky locker room tree.
Now, as lawyers and public relations experts mount damage control operations designed to minimize the liability of the accused the Sandusky affair is another reminder that a new protected class has emerged at the intersection of politics and competitive athletics on a global scale and that the fallout from sexual abuse is sometimes a consequence of it.
The emergence of the athlete as a role model spokesperson and sales facilitator was brought about by the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Soviet communism. The collapse caused direct control of powerful sports programs to be wrested away from military and government ministries by so-called market-based organizations in Russia, the former "East Germany," and Romania. The communist regime in China also tweaked the structure of its sports programs to respond to the new marketing challenge.
With capitalism's emphasis on individual performance rather than the state the value of the sports star as a money maker, and as a sex object, increased exponentially. The United States and other western nations traded their sports marketing playbook as if it was trove of Cold War secrets to obtain parity (some might say leadership) in the development and dissemination of blood doping technologies, performance enhancing drugs and growth hormones and expertise in sports psychology and the coaching of high performance athletes.
Sports marketing became dependent on a business model that relies on college and pro stars who are underwritten by advertising and public relations funds to move product, churn profits and promote economic growth. Now, however, the crisis and the currency war have stepped on consumer spending enough to require some fresh human capital beyond the athletes to drive a model that needs to reinvent itself now to succeed in a very unstable period of structural adjustment.
This considered, maybe its time to take the locker room out of youth development programs and put the chalk talk back in. That's what the organizers at Triple Threat, a Chicagoland organization run on a modest budget with strong community oversight have done.The program has attracted support of players from the NFL Chicago Bears who help make a difference mentoring disadvantaged kids.
There's also a bigger cultural problem running in the background of the Sandusky affair. Nations who are now Washington's top strategic, economic and energy security allies operate legal systems that view the kind of charges brought by the Pennsylvania state legal system against the former coach with ambiguity. Faith based law, tribal traditions, the secondary status of women and tolerance for human trafficking and corruption explained away as social inclusion contradict some of the principles and values of Arab Spring and other public diplomacy products Washington brands and markets to sell American-style democracy to the world.
When a blueblood American business publication like Forbes bolds a headline calling out the Penn State Pedophile you know there's a problem. If the United States is going to provide leadership the world can count on in the ongoing economic reformation schools like Penn State need to grow beyond the Sanduskys and Paternos and win Nobel Prizes instead of national championships.