Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State Scandal: Sports, Religion, and Buddhism

Penn State Scandal: Jerry Sandusky Rumored To Have 'Pimped' Boys To Donors: REPORT

The Huffington Post      
First Posted: 11/10/11 11:29 AM ET Updated: 11/10/11 06:33 PM ET
In the frenzied hours after the Penn State Board of Trustees announced that Joe Paterno was being relieved of his duties as football coach effective immediately, students in State College took to the streets in support of the former coach while college football analysts around the country sought to place his fall from grace in perspective.
Shockingly, there are reports that even more depraved details about the sexual crimes allegedly committed by Sandusky will be revealed in the coming days. As the quasi-riots shook the Penn State campus late Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning, SportsByBrooks began tweeting ominous messages about allegations that have yet to become public.

The Practical Buddhist Responds

Sports is a religion, sort of. It has elaborate rituals and complex hierarchies. It builds community. There are countless sects and subgroups competing for converts and hoping to have discovered the One True Team.  Its most important events happen on Sundays. Humans are probably hard-wired to worship and to root for teams.  It's adaptive. Religion, especially state-sponsored religion, keeps people in line and submissive in the hopes of heaven.  Sports provide an outlet for violent impulses to manage us between invasions, and models the endless tribal wars of our ancestors.

That's why we're so protective of our religions and our sports.

That's why Penn students marched and lit candles for PaJoe but showed no feeling for 20 years of boy victims. That's why administrators thought it was OK to cover up evil for the good of the team.

The Catholic Church did it, famously, for decades. Ditto the military, though less dramatically and with a bit more accountability. So have politicians from Clinton to Cain to Berlusconi, all for what they thought was some greater good -- protecting the institution they served, and not incidentally, themselves.

Buddhists are big on personal responsibility and even bigger on protecting the innocent. They're human, so they're seduced by power and sex and greed too. There've been some sex scandals in American Buddhism. Not too many, maybe because Buddhism is still small here.

It's easy to picture Penn State, especially for an alum or football fan. It's hard to picture the nameless victims, known only as numbers one through nine. That's why so many are choked up that an old man was fired, but have no tears for ruined boys.