I am one month away from the kick off to the 2012 College Football Travel Tour. I can’t wait to experience and share the passion, culture, campuses, games, and college towns. For anyone who loves travel or football, this will be a unique and exciting series featuring unique stories and travel tips.
This time of year, I get excited about college football. Today isn’t one of those days.
In the wake of the child sexual abuse conviction of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA leveled unprecedented sanctions against Penn State and its football program.
A $60 million dollar fine, 14 years worth of wins vacated, a loss of scholarships, and more. It’s a black eye on the world of college football.
This doesn’t mean I disagree with the punishment. However, looking beyond the crime and punishment is what makes me sad.
Penn State changed the world of college football
Joe Paterno was a legend in the world of college football. He was an “Aww shucks!” lovable grandpa figure who was admired and respected by coaches, players, and fans. He reminded me a lot of my own grandfather. I wasn’t a Penn State fan but I liked him.
He was the winningest college football coach of all time and he did things the right way.
Or so we thought.
While Jerry Sandusky was sexually assaulting children on the campus of Penn State, Joe Paterno and Penn State’s administration turned a blind eye. They covered it up, ignored the problem, and didn’t report it so that things would continue the Penn State way in football.
Joe Paterno didn’t commit any crimes. However, he is the scapegoat for everything that went wrong in this scandal. People used to think of Penn State as a solid academic institution with one of the most well respected college football programs in the country. Not anymore.
When did football become more important than the well being of a child? Sure, college football is a sport that requires the sacrifice and hard work of many men as they work towards a common goal. Injuries, football related deaths, and corruption have occurred as a result of money, power, and the insatiable desire to win.
However, the massive cover up of the sexual abuse of children by a man and school that were so well respected saddens me. It hurts me. For a program and coach that seemed to do everything the right way, they got it all wrong.
The world of college football mourns today. It mourns for the lives of these abused children. It mourns the scarred remains of a legend. The world of college football was changed today.
With conference media days, summer practice a week away, and a new college football playoff, now is the time to get excited about the college football season.
However, today got me thinking about the state of our world rather than the beginning of the college football season.
Can travel really change the world?
Less than a week after the Colorado shooting at a movie theater, the loss of lives is followed up by a sickening stain on the world of college football. Obviously the former is far more important than the latter. However, both give me an opportunity to reflect about the state of our world.
An intelligent man who once volunteered as a camp counselor spent months planning a mass murder. College coaches who traveled the country to educate and inspire young kids failed to help kids when it mattered the most.
This week, athletes from all over the world come together to celebrate the greatest travel and sports event in the world – the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Our conflicts take a back seat to competition as we celebrate diversity, culture, and the best athletes the world has to offer.
I am celebrating the stories of people who are celebrating life changing moments through travel through a special campaign. Expedia Find Yours is sharing travel stories and inspirations that remind us that we are all connected and have a story worth telling.
In light of the tragic events from this past week, there are things to celebrate. We celebrate culture, sports, and travel stories around the world. Yet I find myself asking this question again – can travel really change the world?
Truthfully speaking, a part of me believes it while another part of me has doubts. Travel helps connect us with one another. Sports unite people for a common purpose. Yet maybe that isn’t enough. Maybe there is more that we need to do.
It’s time for a comeback
The world celebrates the best of sports, travel, and culture this week. Yet there seems like there is so much more that we need to do to make this world a better place.
Yet the world of college football has changed. Today, we witnessed the final nail in Joe Paterno’s coffin. He was buried in infamy.
In Italy, Paterno is a town in Sicily that flourished during the 15th century. The town was plagued by malaria and was no longer important or relevant. In the 1960s and 70s, it rebounded and grew once again.
The Italian origins of the word Paterno go back to the word father. While it’s too late for college football’s Paterno (that lovable grandfather on the sidelines) to rebound, let’s hope Penn State football finds success again.
This past week, we suffered huge losses on the playing field of life. We need to rebound with a big win. Now is the time we win one for the kids – the ones on the field, in our homes, and around the world.
Beyond gold medals and championships, may this week remind us that sports and travel can change the world.