The NCAA Can't Erase History

Penn State's voided victories should count, Gary Alan Fine argues
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2012 1:34 PM CDT
The NCAA Can't Erase History
The outline of part of a football statue is visible on the wall after its removal on Sunday July 22, 2012, in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Penn State surely deserved to be punished for the Jerry Sandusky coverup, but one part of the NCAA's decision was a bit disturbing, author Gary Alan Fine writes in the New York Times. The NCAA "vacated" Penn State's victories from 1998 to 2011—and with them Joe Paterno's career wins record. "George Orwell would be amused. We learn bad things about people all the time, but should we change our history? Should we, like Orwell’s totalitarian Oceania, have a Ministry of Truth?" Muses Fine: Should we next take an eraser to OJ Simpson's records? To Joseph McCarthy's votes?

"It is understandable that an organization would want its official history to reflect its hopes and desires," Fine allows. "But our histories must properly reflect what happened at the time and not in our imaginations." The answer to scandals such as these is to report everything accurately, and to remember them with sensitivity. "Those young men at Penn State deserve recognition for their efforts, as does Mr. Paterno. … Men in suits should not undo what boys in uniform have achieved." Click for the full column. (More Joe Paterno stories.)

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