Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

July 27, 2012

When Recovery Is Impossible

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 6:01 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Summer should be beach towels and barbeques, family outings and outdoor concerts.  This summer has been different.  The crushing heat is nothing compared to the crushing sadness at the events in Aurora and the suffering it has brought to so many.  As the airwaves fill with faces and numbers and stories of loss, other news is equally disturbing.  The announcement of the NCAA sanctions against Penn State, as did the guilty verdict for Sandusky, brought images of young victims to the forefront.  In these dog days of summer, when looking for an escape from the news by tuning to the latest sports, I have invariably heard commentators wonder whether or when Penn State’s football program will recover.

Thankfully, almost every mention of recovery has been countered with concern for the true victims and the scars they carry.  Yet as sportscasters lament the sanctions and discuss the decades it will take to recover from them, I find myself asking . . . why do we want recovery, and what are we recovering?

Recovery is an interesting word and process.  My dad is, thankfully, recovering nicely from cataract surgery.  Our economy is way too slowly showing some signs of recovery.  In these contexts, recovery assumes that pre-injury or insult, we were in good shape, and once recovered, we will return to health and robustness.  In the case of Penn State, we are talking about a program that was so successful by all the wrong measures.  What value are records broken or games won when it was accomplished by blindness to the pain and suffering of young children.  Do we really want the Penn State football program back to where it was?  Do we want any sports, entertainment or academic competition for excellence to allow or bring out the worst in human nature?

The other meaning of recover comes to mind every time I walk past my faded dining room chairs, desperately in need of re-covering.  Recovering is how we hide old and worn items and give the illusion that they are new and different.  I am terrified that this is the recovering that will occur for Penn State’s football program, and for other high school, college and professional sports.  I am worried that the summer will pass, the spotlight will be elsewhere, and we will re-cover the bad practices and win-at-all- cost philosophy with new wrapping, but nothing will change.

There are many for whom we should pray be blessed with a quick and full recovery; those in Aurora still in the hospital, and all in the theater whose trauma lives with them.  I wish recovery to all victims, of terrorism, of racism, of poverty, of war, of bullying, of abuse.  But I for one do not wish for the recovery of the Penn State football program.  From the muck and filth that Sandusky perpetrated and others allowed, nothing should be salvaged.  A sports program totally different, transparent and  honest, founded on excellence on and off the field is the only way to go.  The statue of Paterno has been carted away.  There are plans to redo the locker rooms.  But more than cosmetic changes are required, and it should take years.  If it means fewer games are won, but more souls are safe, so be it.  If it means fewer trophies but greater human accomplishments to celebrate, then the sanctions may not heal wounds, but perhaps will  move us past recovery.

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1 Comment »

  1. As always, so well said. As we watched the opening of the Olympics, all we could hope for were for
    clean, clear competitions to ensue, with victories earned the hard way… the right way….. is it possible? Let’s hope!! S.M.

    Comment by E and S Milch — July 28, 2012 @ 2:13 pm |Reply


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