Scott Van Pelt: "Penn State Supporters Are Cult-Like"

By Tony Piraro

Sports Center and ESPN radio’s own Scott Van Pelt called the Penn State community “a cult” Thursday afternoon on his radio show. America was outraged to see over 2,000 Penn State supporters rioting in downtown State College Wednesday night after the Paterno firing was announced. This entire scandal is getting uglier with each passing day. The Penn State supporters of Joe Paterno are brainwashed by a football coach and can not see the big picture. Somebody needs to throw some proverbial water in the face of this community, or should I say cult?

These are such poignant words with such a simplistic example. Van Pelt went on to say that most sports readers and listeners don’t listen or read “all the facts,” and added that these Penn State fans have, “selective listening issues.” No matter how much some Penn State alumni and current fans may disagree with Van Pelt’s words, I could not agree more with the ESPN anchor.

“Jerry Sandusky is the villain here! But other people need to be held accountable. Joe Paterno needed to held accountable,” said Van Pelt.

Ashton Kutcher tweeted last night, “How could you fire Joe Pa?!” The funny thing is, the actor had no idea what was going on with the Penn State situation. He opened his big mouth before he knew anything. Kutcher thought Penn State fired their legendary coach for no reason while the team is ranked No. 12 in the nation. That’s laughable. Obviously, this guy lives in a bubble to not hear about the Penn State scandal yet. It is a scary thought that somebody like him is a millionaire.

If you are watching the Penn State scandal from the outside, like most of us are, it enrages most viewers to witness the outward support for Paterno from PSU followers. How can these people continually cheer for this man amidst the lingering reports? Obviously, they are too close to the situation to understand the gigantic ramifications. But c’mon, how naive can you be?!? It saddens me that this 84-year-old man and his wife are standing on their front porch as fans adorn them last night. Meanwhile, Paterno had Sandusky on the Penn State campus in PSU gear no longer then a week ago. The whole situation makes me sick and it’s not at all about football.

Penn State is said to be one of slowest acting universities in the nation, as far as reports of this magnitude go. Cooperating with the media is not a top priority for them. It is a tight-knit community that doesn’t take kindly to being embarrassed. This scandal has been a nightmare and beyond embarrassing for these people, to say the least. Joe Paterno and staff tried to cover up the situation for years. The only reason people found out about the scandal is because Penn State people committed perjury after a report was filed. Read the 23-page court testimony. This situation goes a lot deeper then the public knows. It will eventually all come out and it will floor a lot of people. The beginning for the Penn State board of trustees is cleaning house, as they have been doing the last 12 hours.

Engage this situation for a moment, if you will. If you had a friend of over 30-plus years…and an intern came and told you he saw your friend abusing boys. Would you go directly to the police? Or would you go and confront your best friend first? I believe I’d ask my friend of 30 years before I called the authorities on him. I’d have to see it with my own eyes. Don’t you think Paterno was thinking along the same lines? The first case happened in 1998. Paterno knew a great deal more then he is leading people to believe he knows.

So many people think because we, as writers, bring up football because we are horrible people. Look, as journalists we have an obligation to look at a situation at every angle. College football is a business, a profitable one at that. Therefore, we have no choice but to analyze these situations to the best of our abilities. Scott Van Pelt said it better then most, as is continually having to defend himself against callers and emailers that are outraged by his comments. Most of us feel the same, but just can not say it. I am glad Van Pelt did, and like PSU fans for Joe Pa, I will support Van Pelt in his comparisons to the cult following of Penn State University.

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