Sexism played role in Penn St. horror

They want us to believe Joe Paterno and his title-heavy minions — university president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz — didn’t fully grasp the depravity of Jerry Sandusky’s perversion.

They, Paterno’s remaining apologists, want us to believe JoePa’s and Penn State’s sin had more to do with naivete than vanity.

“The idea that any sane, responsible adult would knowingly cover up for a child predator is impossible to accept,” the Paterno family said in a statement.

“The far more realistic conclusion is that many people didn’t fully understand what was happening and underestimated or misinterpreted events. Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone — law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, University officials and everyone at Second Mile.”

They’re delusional and think we’re stupid.

The Four Horsemen of Penn State’s Apocalypse — Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz, the men rightfully vilified in Louis Freeh’s Last Judgment — concealed Sandusky’s vile behavior because they understood, and, yes, sympathized with his inability to control his sexual demons.

The Penn State tragedy is a disaster rooted in sexism and man’s lack of sexual control.

We think with the wrong head.

I do not say that to be crass or rude or flippant. It’s a reality that should not be ignored when assessing how four men in leadership positions could decide to treat a male child molester “humanely” while ignoring the welfare of defenseless young boys.

If you dig past Paterno’s ego and Penn State’s desire to keep the football cash rolling, sympathy for Sandusky’s inability to control his depraved lust contributed to The Four Horsemen’s decision-making. Only a group of men could find Sandusky’s mental illness more sympathetic than the victims’ suffering.

Think about it. Secretly, most men sympathize with Tiger Woods. But for the grace of God there go we. Take away the partisan politics, and men had no problem with President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

We understand. That does not mean we condone the behavior. It doesn’t mean we would act the same way if we were given access to our sexual fantasies. It just means we understand and are thankful we don’t have to deal with the temptation.

And as it relates to Jerry Sandusky, it certainly does not mean that most men would act in the same cowardly and immoral way as Penn State’s Four Horsemen.

What I do believe is you could scan the globe and it would be impossible to find four women who climbed the leadership ladder within a major institution who would conspire to protect a child molester. A group of women wouldn’t sympathize with a molester. They wouldn’t fret about how to “humanely” treat an adult who couldn’t control his criminal and sick sexual urges while ignoring the welfare of kids. Women wouldn’t understand.

A female high-school counselor turned Penn State Victim No. 1 over to the proper authorities. In 2007, a female vice president of student affairs, Vicky Triponey, butted heads with Paterno and his football supporters and lost when she tried to investigate fights involving Penn State football players.

It’s not a coincidence that the top journalist covering the Sandusky tragedy is a young woman, Sara Ganim, the crime reporter for the Harrisburg Patriot-News. She was covering the story when no one cared. She was covering the story before anyone realized there would be a Pulitzer Prize for her work. She’s a Penn State graduate working at ground zero. She’s now celebrated nationally. I can assure you she was initially vilified locally for betraying her alma mater.

Think of how many male sportswriters there are across the country. None of us had the instincts or guts to get on this story at the ground floor.

Compare Sara Ganim to Joe Posnanski, male sportswriters’ favorite sportswriter. Posnanski descended on State College two years ago to write a fairy-tale book about St. Joe Paterno. He wrote a syrupy Sports Illustrated profile of St. Joe as bait to entice Paterno and his family to cooperate.

Posnanski has been in State College for nearly two years chronicling Paterno’s march toward being the winningest coach in college football history. Ganim and others were writing stories about the grand-jury investigation that would soon engulf Sandusky, Paterno and Penn State football.

Posnanski never saw the storm coming. Rather than embrace having a front-row seat to write about one of the most horrific and important stories in the history of sports, Posnanski has thrown an eight-month tantrum about how “one hazy moment” doesn’t define St. Joe Paterno and how the media are wrong for vilifying a man who did so many great things.

Posnanski has bunkered down and disappeared into relative seclusion like writing the truth about Paterno is the most difficult and treacherous task a journalist has ever undertaken. Men are the worst jock-sniffers.

Ganim vs. Posnanski. Woman vs. man.

One of the lessons to be taken from this Penn State mess is that universities need to empower women in their athletic departments. Strong women. Women like Pat Summitt. Women who aren’t afraid to publicly dislike Geno Auriemma. Women who make men uncomfortable.

It won’t solve every problem. But I believe a little gender diversity at the top of Penn State’s power structure would’ve stopped Jerry Sandusky.