From a review of a new documentary about one of America’s most bizarre locales.

After [Penn State’s Jerry] Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child abuse, Penn State was treated as a national pariah, hit with a $60 million fine and forced to forfeit 13 years of football victories, based on the premise that it had put athletic accomplishment above ethical conduct. As if that were somehow unique among American universities! Here’s the parallel: People in Happy Valley tried to blame Penn State’s problem on Jerry Sandusky, and people in America tried to blame college football’s problems on Penn State…

… I’m not claiming there’s some obvious solution to the hive-mind, groupthink, blame-the-media mentality we see in “Happy Valley,” which seems like a constitutive element of human psychology that’s not limited to Penn State or college football or America.

… [N]obody in Happy Valley wanted to hear anything bad about the demigods who ran their beloved football program, until it became necessary to pull down their idols and cast them out of the temple.

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2 Responses to “God, Demigod, and Man at Penn State”

  1. GTWMA Says:

    “Bizarre”? I think you’ve completely missed the point of the review and the movie. The appropriate word would be “typical”

    As the article says: “Anyone who says the same thing couldn’t have happened at Alabama or Miami or USC or Oklahoma or at least two dozen other football-mad schools — indeed, anyone who claims to know for sure that it hasn’t happened — is kidding themselves, big time.”

    The only amendment I would make is that the blindness is not confined to “football-mad schools”. It applies to “basketball-mad schools” and more broadly to every community in America–we all prefer to look the other way and not believe the worst of the institutions and heroes we’ve created.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    GTWMA: Both. Both words: bizarre and typical.

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