Thom Loverro: Nothing worth cheering as Penn State opens season

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Sports,College,Thom Loverro

The obscenity that is football -- the shield that protected Jerry Sandusky while he performed unspeakable acts on young children -- begins Saturday in Happy Valley.

More than 100,000 fans will flock to Beaver Stadium when the football team takes the field against Ohio University to open the 2012 season.

Hotel rooms will be filled. Bars will be busy. Souvenirs will be sold.

These so-called "victims" -- the ones who count on Penn State football for money in their pockets, the ones who we heard would be unfairly targeted if there was no football -- will be spared any such pain.

The players will be hailed as heroes for being willing to continue the tradition of Penn State football.

For the first time, names will be on the jerseys, a move, according to a school press release, that is "in recognition of their resolve and dedication to the team and the university."

They will be wearing blue ribbons to support victims of child abuse.

"The Penn State community stands with all victims of child abuse," acting athletic director David Joyner said.

As if a costume trinket can speak for the true victims.

Coach Bill O'Brien will be heralded as a leader in tough times.

"I'm proud that our players want to be part of the university's efforts to help victims of child abuse," O'Brien said. "We hope our fans join us in wearing blue ribbons to all Penn State home games."

They may erect a statue to him before the end of the season.

They will mourn the passing not of Joe Paterno the man but of Joe Paterno the myth. He will be their martyr.

And in private, the 10 victims whom Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator who used the school to help commit his unspeakable acts, was convicted in June of sexually assaulting -- as well as other victims who were not part of the criminal case -- will silently scream, "Hasn't anyone been paying attention?"

Those cries will be silent because the one place they need to be heard most -- State College, Pa. -- will drown out their voices with cheers of "We are Penn State."

Those voices will be drowned out because the rich and powerful who embrace denial have declared Penn State a victim of injustice because of the penalties handed down by the NCAA -- a four-year postseason ban, lost scholarships and a $60 million fine -- the cost of doing business.

That may be the greatest obscenity of all -- one group fighting the penalties is called "Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship."

What an insult -- responsible stewardship.

Those voices of the real victims would have been heard this Saturday and throughout the year if Beaver Stadium were empty. A silent season would have spoken volumes.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner