The Penn State sexual abuse scandal is a sad testament to how the rules for the game of football sometimes don’t transfer to the Game of Life. Young men are taught in football to follow the rules or they will get penalized while negatively impacting the team’s success of winning. They are taught to protect the vulnerable (i.e. the passing quarterback) because they can be powerless against blitzing bigger men. There are many more parallels such as the responsibility coaches have to oversee and discipline players that don’t follow the rules or perform to protect and block.
The Penn State football culture seemed to be more passionate about preserving and performing in the game of football than to do well and be responsible in the Game of Life. They had one of their colleagues sexually exploiting and abusing young boys on their watch and in their showers. Why didn’t they throw the flag for encroachment? In the Game of Life, you aren’t supposed to step over that line. Not only is it a rule among a civil society, it’s against the law. Why didn’t the rules for the Game of Life trump success in the game of football? It may have caused a loss of a good football coach, or it may have created temporary negative publicity on the program. But, it would have shed light on more than a few good men doing the right thing.
Throwing the flag and calling the authorities is the right thing to do for the man who lost his playbook in the Game of Life. It is the right thing to do for the young powerless boys who needed protection from a blitzing human being aimed at getting in the backfield of sexuality. Unfortunately, we have predators in our midst and it up to us to protect the powerless from them. Football is fun to watch, but it loses it attraction when men lose at the Game of Life while trying to build a winning program. Are we ready for some football? Yes. And only yes, if football programs are following the rules of the Game of Life first and foremost.
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Randy Flood, MA, LLP
Evaluator and Therapist; Director and Therapist, Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan. Randy has been involved in counseling psychology since 1992 and joined the Fountain Hill Center in 2000. He believes sitting with individuals 1:1 and in groups while they share their pain, joy, fears and passions is a privilege. He beleives it is soul work: the process of taking off the social mask and placing oneself deeper into vulnerability takes courage, the journey of leaving the security of the familiar patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving to seeking new ways of living.