Categories: College Football (NCAA), 2012 NCAA, 2013 NCAA

11/09/11

Scandals, Strikes & Fines

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-Digger's Daily-

It's been a week filled with ugly news coming from the sporting world. Shocking scandals ending a legendary coaching career, sickening NBA negotiating impasse and disgruntled NFL players reacting to another round of fines by Commissioner Goodall. What's next? Hopefully nothing else to shock our systems.

NCAA
Penn State's football program sent shock waves throughout America. The scoop is Paterno's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was charged over the weekend with 40 counts of molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009 through his charitable foundation The Second Mile (for at-risk youths). Also charged - in an apparent cover-up from 2002 - Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz for failing to notify authorities.

It's an ugly scandal. Legendary coach Joe Paterno is taking the news hard. Earlier this afternoon, Paterno announced his retirement effective at the end of this season.

"I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today," Paterno said in his statement.

"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.

"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."

This is a bitter pill to swallow. Brooklyn born Joe Paterno "JoePa" is one of the most respected men in all of sports. A walking legend and Hall of Fame coach compiling over 400 victories. This is no way for a man of his stature to retire. However, this scandal isn't going away any time soon. Paterno will forever second guess, and be questioned, for not contacting law enforcement when learning of Sandusky's conduct with a 10 year old boy years ago in Penn State football's shower facilities. He did notify Athletic Director Tim Curley the next day. Paterno was cleared of wrong doing. But - On November 7, Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said that though Paterno and others may have fulfilled their legal obligation to report suspected abuse, "somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child," and that, "I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you're a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us" (from CBSSports.com).

Sandusky's story is certain to get uglier before it gets any better. Many will fall from ranks within Penn State. Stay tuned, more to follow.

NBA
What will it take for NBA owners and players to finally settle their differences? Caught in the cross fire are plenty of non-millionaire pay me more money non-players. Street vendors, parking attendants, concession stand employees, ushers, ticket takers, local transportation, restaurants, hotels and right on down the line. Wake up folks! Commissioner Stern has been slammed by pro-union media types. Owners called "Plantation owners" by NBAPA's executive director Billy Hunter (who seems less than honest in media dealings). 133 days of lockouts now threatens the entire NBA season for the first time in league history.
Hey players - when is enough enough? The world is burning. Finances of millions in ruins. The players holding out for more - despicable. Let's face it, next round (season) of tickets from arena to arena will skyrocket. Average families, already snake-bit by rising costs of everything from heat to milk, will now bear the burden of lining pockets of individuals least in need. I, for one, am fed up with sports labor negotiations. Days of owners taking advantage of players are long since over. Nowadays, it's clearly the other way around.

NFL
The Steelers have been fined 13 times for more than $182,000 this season for questionable tackles. Their latest fine has one player mighty miffed. NFL leveled a $40K fine against safety Ryan Clark and he's lashing out at Commissioner Goodall. NFL has levied many fines this season with the goal of curtailing head to head tackles which often lead to concussions. Players all know if they intentionally launch helmet first into another players helmet - a heavy fine is coming. However, during the natural course of a game, head to head hits will happen and aren't always intentional. In most cases, it's not intentional but NFL hands out fines nonetheless.
I suspect it's difficult to determine players intentions beyond clearly obvious launching hits. Defensive players around the league have become a bit miffed at Goodall's fines. How is a player to avoid helmet to helmet contact when players on offense often lower their heads a split second before a tackle is made. The original intent of fining players was for protection from clear helmet leading tackles. Not so anymore.

All Pro LB Ray Lewis:

"You can't stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play," Lewis said. "When the receiver has the ball, your job is to disengage him from the ball. You never want to hurt nobody. I've been in this business too long. I just think once you start getting into these fines I don't know how they come up with the numbers most of the time."

It's time for the NFL to refine their system. Protecting player safety is always of utmost concern. But, let us not lose sight of the fact football is a dangerous game. There's a certain amount of risk on every single play. NFL needs to find a better way of determining avoidable hits from unavoidable hits - something they've yet to figure out.

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