When news broke about the Penn State sex scandal early last week, I remember sitting back in my office desk chair - hands firmly pressing on the sides of my head, as if I were sporting earmuffs that might keep me from hearing the disgusting claims -- and trying to figure out how such a heinous crime could be swept under the rug for so long.
If Jerry Sandusky had actually been "fondling" and "raping" (Grand Jury's words not mine) little boys for over a decade as the testimony would infer, then how are we, the viewing public, supposed to justify 10 plus years of hidden secrets.
Young boys, who became young men who grew into adults, had to live with the pain and anguish of these buried truths through some of the most vital and formative years of their lives. WHY? Because one man had so much power and authority - as the defensive coordinator at one of the most heralded football schools in the country - that it was suddenly acceptable to strip away their innocence?
Trying to internalize the allegations was sickening. A first attempt to read the 23-page Grand Jury Testimony proved unsuccessful, as just three pages in keen interest quickly became nauseating horror. The reality was too real and the descriptions far too descriptive. It was like watching a horror film and halfway through realizing that it was actually your nightly newscast.
Now, just as people seem to be coming to terms with the actuality of it all - Sandusky's actions, Mike McQueary's inaction, Joe Paterno's involvement -- another scandal breaks from the sporting ranks.
This time it's college basketball.
Longtime Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine is being accused of molestation by two former Syracuse ball boys. In an interview with ESPN's Outside the Lines, both alleged victims' 39-year-old Bobby Davis and 45-year-old Mike Lang (Davis' stepbrother) claim they were molested by fine for "several years" while working for the team in the mid-1980's.
Once again, teens in the prime of their lives allegedly stripped of their innocence and forced to live with the truth in silence. Davis did approach police and ESPN in 2003 with the information, but at the time no one was able to corroborate his story and the investigation went cold.
Another example of sweeping the past away for safekeeping? Possibly.
If so, does Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim find his 35-plus years of service and coaching excellence in a similar fate to that of JoePa? What's sad is that many people are probably more concerned with that (See: Riots in Happy Valley) than the victims and children at risk here.
Now, with multiple scandals on the table here, it's got to make every common sports fan or even compassionate citizen wonder - are there more?
When the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal first really broke in 2002, people were dismayed by the accusations but speculation was still abound for many of the cases. But, as more time passed, more victims came forward and a growing number of priests came under investigation for their own indiscretions.
As painful a thought it is, the overwhelming feeling is that Sandusky and Fine are just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. It may take months, even years, it may never happen and maybe I'm just overreacting - I pray this is the case - but it certainly feels like this ship is sinking, and fast.
Maybe it won't just be coaches, maybe it will be administrators or even players (ugh), but whoever it may be it just seems like this is headed for a full-blown scandal.
There have always been the rumors about athletes in the locker rooms (See: Troy Aikman, Mike Piazza... etc), and I suppose surrounding yourself with dozens of testosterone infused men on a daily basis could have an impact on someone's sexual preferences or desires. So, if the likes of Sandusky and Fine actually did fall victim to such desires, who is to say that there aren't others?
The Catholic Church had to endure through their John Geoghan's and Paul Shanley's before all of the molesters and pedophiles were found. Could this be the same place college sports is headed?
If so, the least of NCAA President Mark Emmert's problems will be with conference realignment or player compensation.
It's a very harsh reality to face, especially for dedicated fan bases like those of Penn State and Syracuse, but one that we as avid sports fans and reasonable humans can't ignore.
There may be more, and again I pray there's not, but everyone needs to be prepared for the ensuing aftermath. Not just for your favorite college team or legendary coach, but to be mindful and understanding of those directly affected.
Pray for the victims. Pray for us all.