Friday, July 13, 2012

SPORTS MEDIA: Five Penn State Questions

The Freeh Report is out... the deliberation now continues in a public forum over every sports radio station and blogs like this across the country.  A coaching career that a few years ago was looked at as legendary has lost its luster - to say the least.  I know how passionate I am about my school, University of Missouri.  Given that, and knowing others like me exist for every school, I can only imagine what alumni of Penn State must be thinking at this point.     

Here are five questions that come to my mind as a guy who's spent 25 years in the media and charged with the business of organizational "communication."  All rank way below "how do we help the victims" which clearly wasn't of major importance up until this story first broke months ago.  So - lets be clear... these five questions are not meant to minimize damage already done.

1. Has there ever been a bigger fall from grace in all of sports?

I can't really think of one off the top of my mind.  Politics has given us a laundry list over time.  Sports has provided the likes of O.J. Simpson.  Where does this rank?  Who could be looked at in similar fashion - if anyone.

2. What happens to the Joe Paterno statue?

This is being hashed out today with great passion.  Some say "take it down immediately"... others say "go ahead, but what does it solve?"  Clearly a statue stands for something... and represents something.  Taking it down doesn't help the victims of Jerry Sandusky.  But it does send a message.  If it goes, I wonder how.

3. What of the Penn State leadership?

Not talking about the football leadership, but the administration of the university.  By all accounts not enough information was provided - until now.  Where does the house cleaning begin... and where does it stop?

4. Does the "Death Penalty" do the right thing?

I've heard some on radio call for the end of the football program in response to the scandal.  Some have said "do it for a year"... others have argued "suspend football indefinitely."  I've always believed that sports is about the athletes and the alumni above the money.  Taking football from kids who had nothing to do with past administration seems harsh.  It happened at SMU... what would it solve in this case?

5. If you lead communications efforts ... what's the message now?

So you are the Penn State athletic department's leader, or the communications chief in charge of shaping and defining the message for coaches and the university's athletic department.  What does Bill O'Brien say to supporters of the football program with the season just weeks away?  How does he sell the program to recruits?  Managing the media this season will be a chore to be certain.  What the university delivers and how they do it will be interesting.  To me, passionate alums should be a part of the rebuild, not kept on the sideline.


To this day I still can't believe this has all come to be.  The families of the victims probably get little satisfaction from all of this chatter.  The damage has been done and can't be reversed which is sad.  


This is your opportunity to weigh in with thoughts. I'm providing questions... not answers. Thanks for reading and passing along to others.  I hope you will.  Look forward to your comments.