Arguing if Jerry Sandusky is a sports story: the dumbest thing we can be doing right now
Take your right hand off of your mouse or keyboard and lift it up. Bend your elbow and put it on the upper-left section of your chest.
It is that incredible organ beating with mechanized-like precision, but not created by the hands of man.
At this very moment it is broken for the friends, families and sympathizers of countless known and unknown victims of Jerry Sandusky, a man who committed the worst form of torture imaginable –the kind that lasts a lifetime.
When these crimes were revealed, the need arose to put everything into categories. Is this a sports story or not? Does this fall under the duty of sports writers or crime beat reporters? Should the coverage be broadcast on ESPN or CNN?
The truth is: It. Does. Not. Matter.
Although journalists are divided along the lines of art, government, crime, sports, etc. they all have the same mission at their core: to find a story and accurately tell it.
The Pulitzer-worthy reporting of Sara Ganim (a Penn State alumna) unearthed a story in State College, Pa. She was not a sports writer, but the story involved a sports figure committing a crime.
And that’s ok. In fact, it sets the precedent for the elimination of an unnecessary separation between coverage of the sports world and the real world, as it relates to the Jerry Sandusky case.
That very same organ mentioned before, beats inside athletes, too. It speeds up in full sprint down the court during a fast break and when it goes home to a loving wife and children.
Athletes are still people…people that just happen to be incredibly talented at a skill which grosses billions every year and has woven itself into popular culture. The stories about sports, at least the good ones, remind us of that.
And believe it or not, even sports writers have hearts. It’s what helps interpret right from wrong and drives the passion to expose the latter.
When it comes to Jerry Sandusky and the reporting of sports figures (or entire programs) who fail to meet the ethical expectations set by our society and the law, it falls on all journalists to do their duty.
The story of Sandusky and Penn State’s negligence is not just a tale of the power of football, nor is it exclusively about one man’s heinous molestations. It is about society’s black-and-white definition and reverence of beloved public figures, the moral fabric of us all when the right way isn’t the easiest way and a very real illness that lives inside the minds of some men on this planet.
The Sandusky Scandal transcends the boundaries of a sports story or crime story -it is a tragedy made public. It belongs on every news station, whether its coverage is sandwiched between political debate or baseball box scores. It belongs in the public consciousness so that we can use Sandusky’s decades of terror and turn them into an abuse-free future.
In order to make that happen, it’s going to take the effort of not just sports journalists and non-sports journalists, but a united media committed to giving a voice to those who would not have one otherwise.