Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Will & Mind: Pat Summitt & the Essence of College Sport

I loved watching Pat Summitt coach. She stalked the sidelines with fire in her eyes and willed her players to victory. She x-rayed the game, made split second decisions and her fine-tuned teams adapted on the dime. Under her tutelage players grew as players and persons. She collected 6 national titles, but they only confirmed to me  she embodied the basic truth that mind and will govern sports and achievement.

Players flocked to play for Summit not because she was easy or cuddly. She could be coldly demanding and spit fire and brimstone with a polite drawl. She trained for perfection and demanded a level of technical excellence and superb conditioning of each of her players. Her teams were not flashy or fancy. They played hard tenacious defense, rebounded better than anyone and played enough offense to “sell tickets” and win.

She imbued her players with this forceful intelligence and undaunted spirit, preparing them for “life” as much as sport. As she liked to say “don’t every say can’t to me” or in an all admonition to her players and herself, always “pay attention.”

She built her team on basics, execution and intensity, above all intensity that radiated from the coach through assistants to every player past and present. People knew what to expect when they played Summit’s Tennessee teams. The team simply did what they did better than anyone else. They beat you fair and square.

She had few rivals as an in-game coach. She could read the other teams’ and respond to defenses and match ups. Her vision comprehended the game, and her mind patterned and adapted on the fly. The training and preparation of her teams enabled them to execute and finish. Her mind and will infused them and her best teams were always finishers.
In another interview I remember her emphasizing how “to focus upon everything” when preparing and mastering the game. This played out in games where she demanded of herself and of her teams that they “bring the best every day.” If not, a player faced her famous baleful “the look.” One she modestly said was a “little intense” and helped to get “players to focus.” More to the point her son describes how that  “stare of hers burn(s) a hole through your head.”

Her approach to coaching and players exemplified the old school theme but in modern feminist fugue, something she would probably vehemently deny. She exercised strong willed authority but not to the obsessive minute control of a Vivian Stringer.

These memories of her haunted me when I watched her coach late this season. She sat on the sidelines and watched the games. Clearly engaged but not with the almost feral penetration of the past. When she talked it was one on one; her long time assistants handled most of the huddles and most of the plays.

I have never been able to identify “fire in the eyes” although I understand the metaphor, but I could read her careful body language. It’s absurd to think of the word fragile and Pat Summit, but she carried herself more gingerly. The players paid attention to her but took their many cues from Holly Warlick and the Mickie DeMoss.

Pat Summitt is suffering from early-onset dementia Alzheimer’s type. The cruel disease steals a person’s mind and memory though the accretion of plaques in the brain that undermine neural communication. I watched it slowly befuddle and steal the energy, focus and memory of my grandfather. Last year at her announcement she could talk about forgetting some things and having trouble concentrating. He son spoke of simplifying house keeping mechanisms. Alzheimer’s is noted for sapping memory, but it steals concentration and focus. It diffused intensity that go with those. It confuses complex information processing so that persons can handle some information but get muddled much faster.

All the requirements of elite coaching and the strength of Summit’s greatness are being attacked by Alzheimer’s. She wants to continue coaching, and this year made arrangements to “assign staff responsibilities.” Her excellent and long-time assistants have always carried a lot of the load in practices. Now they do more, much more, and during the games, they handle most of the huddles. For someone with Alzheimer’s processing the massive inputs and pattern recognition required to manage a basketball game becomes harder and harder, let alone focusing and making quick decisions plus expending emotional energy to motivate and direct players.
It cannot continue because the essence of coaching of elite sports competition lies in the mind and focused will of the players and coach. It grows from the ability of the player and coaches’ to decipher patterns of a game and adapt to them on the fly while emanating emotional energy that keeps players focused and together during the ups and downs of a game. With luck and care, we will not have to watch her decline on national TV during games that she can no longer master.

Summit stood as a master of both mind and will. Her best teams demonstrated both. While she could rage with the best, she inspired loyalty and executed with virtuosity. 

I can only admire her brilliance as a teacher and coach. How she channeled her intensity and intelligence into recruiting, coaching and playing an intense game. How success did not change her or quench her fire. Mellow would never describe her.

So watching Tennessee play the other day reminded me of why college sports involves mind and spirit. The erosion of either undermines athletics much more so than physical loss.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Give Sabbaticals to College Coaches

March Madness highlights the dominance of coaches in intercollegiate athletics. They prowl the sidelines celebrated and victimized by the media. Commentators remind us how their salaries dwarf college presidents and state governors. Football or basketball coach are usually the most recognized names in a state. This celebrity exposure carrries another side. Last week the widely respected Texas women’s basketball coach Gail Goestenkors resigned after five years citing that she was “tired” and needed to “step back” from basketball.

She joins honorable company. This season the fine Arizona State basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne took a nine-month unpaid leave from basketball. For two years we watched the physical and mental torment of Florida football coach Urban Meyer before he took a year off to recover his health and family. In 1994 Mike Krzyzewski took off a season off from exhaustion.

Their actions identify a core truth about the college coaching, the profession never lets up. College coaching wears people down and exhausts them. I believe colleges should offer college coaches sabbaticals just as they offer sabbaticals to faculty and administrators.

The sabbatical grows from the Hebrew idea of setting aside the Sabbath as a day of rest. It expanded into the sabbatical year occurring every seventh year to let the field lie fallow to renew and nourish the land Universities adapted the idea to permit scholars to take time away from administration and teaching to pursue intellectual and spiritual renewal. Modern progressive corporations such as Microsoft and Google encourage the same approach.

I believe our colleges should expand this to our college coaches. While many are appalled at the high salaries made by high profile coaches, the profession has very little job security. Universities regularly fire winning coaches because they have not won enough. Colleges permit boosters to have inordinate influence in hiring and firing coaches while undervaluing the graduation rates and academic successes of coaches. Coaches are no longer given the 3-5 years needed to build a program. They took tenure away from coaches long ago, but still pretend coaches are teachers. Well coaches are teachers and perform yeoman service for the university.

The job inflicts continuous stress with its attendant impact upon the mind, body and emotions of coaches. The stakes are high with daily or weekly wins and losses as well as incessant media and fan scrutiny. Everyone wants a piece of the coach for clinics, charity or fundraising. Yet administrators will jettison them on a dime. The job demands make raising families and keeping marriages intact very hard given the moving and insecurity of the position as well as the consuming time and stress commitments.

Successful coaches’ profile as driven competitors who love winning but hate losing even more. I watched an interview with the great Tennessee coach Pat Summit where the interviewer asked her to remember her first victories that anchored her identity as a coach. Instead she remembered, like most coaches, her first losses that motivated and taught her as a coach. They can gently be described as control freaks consumed with details, planning, technique and tape. Yet their lives depend upon 18 year olds, and the endless year around recruiting permits no down time.

It never steps. I remember a joyful banquet after a great basketball season. The celebration was filled with warmth, memories and mutual pride and satisfaction. At the end I said to the coach, “you must be feeling good.” He winked and said “tomorrow it starts all over.”

This life style can destroy lives. Mike Krzyzewski’s wife detailed the ultimatum she had to give her husband to get him to the doctor, “I’m telling you right now, it’s me or basketball. If you are not at the doctor’s at 2:30, I’ll know what you chose.” He went to the doctor, earlier Krzyzewski admitted he knew something had to give when his 83 year old mother called and apologized saying "Mike, I don't want to take much of your time.” He spent his enforced time like a sabbatical with his family and working to “re-envision himself as a coach.” He would watch tape of himself and ask “do I still believe that.”

I believe that universities should offer, even require, that their senior coaches take sabbaticals just like their faculty do. Our coaches teach and learn constantly and that is what universities claim they do. If a coach has been at a college for more than seven years, he or she should be eligible to apply for a leave--it would be paid for a term and then paid on a sliding scale for longer sabbaticals, just as they do for faculty. In fact I think senior administrators should actively encourage long term coaches to take advantage of this. The universities should honor that claim by treating them to the same opportunity to continue to learn and renew that they give other teachers and administrators.

Good sabbaticals give people the opportunity to take emotional and intellectual risks. They can explore, learn, and create. They can reconnect with family and friends and renew themselves and their passions. As an administrators returning faculty would often say “I rediscovered why I entered academia.”

The funny part is most coaches would be reluctant to take a sabbatical on their own. Usually they have to wait until their body breaks down, or they face what Goestenkors faced where they lose their passion and engagement in the game. A good coach would fear that they would lose out on recruiting. Other coachers would counter-recruit them telling potential athletes the sabbatical bound coach might be “losing it” Coaches’ competitive fear would deter them unless the administrators pushed and reassured them that coming back they would have two years to get back.

Returning from a sabbatical a coach would be better prepared. She or he would have more emotional energy a renewed commitment to the game and to students. They would remember and renew why they took the job to begin with. Like us, so many coaches forget or wistfully try to remember why they became coaches—to help kids grow and to do something they loved.

Charli Turner Thorne returned to coaching this month and answered the endless questions, "It's like people didn't hear what I said." Turner Thorne said "I stepped back and I looked what do I need to do with this program to help make the final step. I needed time to evaluate everything we were doing and myself first and foremost. I feel fantastic about my game plan coming back to hopefully make that push for the (NCAA) Final Four." She celebrated at home with a “regular Thanksgiving dinner” and took her three sons to the Grand Canyon Polar Express. She spent time studying learning and how modern multi-tasking kids need to be coached—now that is a sabbatical no matter what field you work in.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Athlete Politicians: Basketball Democrats & Football Republican

I am watching the start of the NCAA tournament  but also watching the Republican nomination process. I just watched the Fan in Chief do his own NCAA brackets. It dawned on me that in so many ways politics and sports naturally converge, certainly the media uses the same language and approach to them. So I thought about athletes who enter politics.

Name recognition alchemizes electoral politics and name recognition with high positive generates electoral gold. This link makes athletics and electoral politics natural fits, and more than a few successful athletes have parlayed their positive fame into electoral victories. Using a totally nonscientific sample of largely ex-professional players, I think that the two sports—football and basketball—launch very different political types.

Let’s start with the similarities of electoral politics and sports. All elite athletes are fierce competitors dedicated to winning. Elite athletes stay in shape and are incredibly driven and persistent; they don’t give up and learn to handle failure and adapt. In modern sports, they learn to handle negative press and personal attacks as well as revel in success. They know how fickle the public can be but hold their professional focus. These character traits prepare them well for electoral politics.

Finally most athletes earn their fame in a local area, and electoral politics remains resolutely local despite the best efforts of national PACS. Most of the politicians I cite either returned home like Largent, Watts or Johnson or built their political base where they played long term like Kemp, Bradley or Bing. They enter at strong local positions such as mayor or US House seats.

So let's think about the hypothetical relations between politics and football and basketball.

Off hand a couple football names come to mind. Steve Largent, the great receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, returned home to Oklahoma and entered politics as a conservative Republican. He served 4 terms in the US House of Representatives but lost in his bid to become Republican governor. J.C. Watts returned home to Oklahoma and ran successfully for the US House of Representative as a black conservative Republican. Eagles' guard John Runyan presently serves in the US House from New Jersey as a conservative Republican. Jack Kemp, one of the most dynamic and interesting politicians of the late twentieth century, was elected from his base as the Buffalo Bills quarterback. He  served 18 years in the House and later as the Secretary of HUD under George H. Bush as well as a Vice Presidential candidate. Non pro but very very football, Tom Osborne, the long time football coach player at Nebraska, served 4 terms in the US House and lost his bid to win the governorship. 

Why would football players make good conservative Republicans? Good question and I will right way eliminate all the head injuries as some wags have suggested.  First, elite athletes believe in individual self-discipline and personal responsibility. The vast majority of players come from working class or deeply disadvantaged backgrounds. All of them achieved success as self-made men and will not believe in an entitled or “hand-out” based world. Second, football depends upon strong authority. Players thrive under strong authoritative leadership. The authority combines with ordered co-operations and teamwork. Third, teams are voluntary associations where people earn their spots in a brutal and relentless meritocracy. Successful teams align voluntary self-disciplined effort and skills with an absolute commitment to common authority—one   mind, one team, one effort, one leader. Finally, violence and aggressiveness dominate the world of football. Teams win with brains but ultimately with the consistent, skillful and borderline legal applications of force and coercion. Football is not just about competition and zero sum win or lose situations but about a world saturated with aggression and violence.

Modern Republicanism, at least, fits naturally with a world view of being surrounded by violent enemies and depending upon a radical self-made effort where people owe little to each other, unless they do so in a voluntary association. It also coexists uneasily with a world of strong authoritarian leadership to mobilize people in a threatening and aggressive world.

Basketball has a long tradition of Democrats. Mo Udall long time Arizona congressman and presidential candidate played basketball for the Denver Nuggets.  Bill Bradley played for years with the New York Knicks and ended up serving 3 terms  in the US Senate representing New Jersey as well as being strongly considered for the Presidency. Tom McMillen played basketball at Maryland and professional at Washington. He later served 3 terms as a member of the US House in Maryland before losing his seat in a redistricting battle. 

One of the issues that lead me to thinking about this was watching Kevin Johnson, the Mayor of Sacramento, lead negotiations to keep the Sacramento Kings at his birth city. He entered started economic development companies in his hometown after going back for his degree at California and then getting a Divinity Degree at Harvard. Dave Bing was elected as a strong reform minded mayor in Detroit after playing for the Pistons for 16 years and then founding a successful local business. 

Now why might basketball turn out Democrats? Well race might seem obvious since 82 percent of NBA players are black compared to 65 % in football, except football culture trumps race in the case of folks like J. C. Watts or Lynn Swann. Elite basketball athletes would share the same mind-set of self-made individuals as well as the disciplined and focus competitive world-view. But basketball presents a very different view of authority and how the world works. Basketball unfolds as a continuous sport, not a reset sport. No one gets to stop after each event and call plays and start over. Authority is not authoritarian in such conditions. It must be adaptable, fluid and open to a wider range of permutations in real time. In basketball you don't just do what you are told, you see and adapt while the coach watches from the side. While physical, basketball does not possess nearly the level of sheer violence or injury. It requires aggressiveness but of a much more blended type. Basketball never stops moving. It is chaotic and fast and requires incessant and fluid awareness to master the sport. Players relate to authority differently. 

Authority remains more fluid since coaches cannot stop play each play an impose order. The power of the floor general or point guard grows and takes far more time. The teamwork is much less rigid. More room exists for egos  and individuality because the teams are smaller and more exposed rather than the faceless weaponized modern football players.  Basketball presents a world with much more individualized play, more styles, more chaos and much less overt and direct aggressive violence. It also requires a comfort with endless vaguely ordered chaos.

If you watch the modern democratic politics, it remains a more chaotic, pluralistic and diffuse coalition. The politics requires adaptability and movement and comfort with chaos and innovation; authority is simply far less certain and diversity of style far wider. The world view opens to more than just zero sum solutions or aggressive and violent enemies. 

I may think more about this and wonder what to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger and body-building or or Jesse Ventura and professional wrestling, but that is another story, as is baseball.

As I think more about football and Republicans I remember that Richard Nixon played football at Whittier College, Dwight Eisenhower played football at West Point until he was injured. Gerald Ford played football at Michigan and Ronald Reagan played football at Notre Dame. No wait! He played George Gipper in the movie Knute Rockne, but in modern America there is no difference.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pay to Maim--Making Football Players Felons

Football is a violent game; the violence powers its structure and attraction. I have written at length about how this violence requires greater moral discipline from players and coaches than any other athletic endeavors. The game grows from the disciplined application of force against other human beings. In its normal practice within rules, the sport almost guarantees elite college and professional players will have shorter life spans, physically disabled futures and, worse, more than a few will lose their personhood to the depredations of brain injury.

Grown physically large men unleash focused aggression upon each other to block, tackle, run, pass, and catch. The level of force they inflict with this aggression would destroy most of us physically if we were not wearing weaponized armor and superbly trained. Only the tightest self and peer discipline among players and coaches keeps the game intact. Its intensity, ferocity and energy resembles a fusion reaction barely contained by internal forces. It can easily destabilize and explode into something worse, where the game becomes criminal assault.

The key here as with uniformed services lies in intention. The infliction of violent force upon another human being must serve a distinct and limited purpose to be defensible. If I tackle someone to stop the run, that fits with the norms and defensible approach to the game. If I a ball or cause a fumble, that fits. If I block someone hard within the rules, that fits. All this skilled and fierce force hurts, but if serious injury occurs, it is not intended but flows from another action—to block tackle, run, strip within the context of the game. These rules and intentions keep the game from being criminal assault.

Criminal assault occurs when a person  physically attacks or asserts force against another human being with the intent of maiming or injuring them so they cannot go on in their life role. It lies in the intent to injure and harm. Criminal assault that occurs because a person is paid to hurt someone involves a more heinous crime than one that involves passion or loss of control. So intentional maiming or injurying for money involves moral and criminal assault.

Now we know the New Orleans’ Saints turned football into criminal assault.

"The league’s investigation determined that this improper “Pay for Performance” program included “bounty” payments to players for inflicting injuries on opposing players that would result in them being removed from a game," NFL said in a statement. “Commissioner Goodell will determine punishment." "The players regularly contributed cash into a pool and received improper cash payments of two kinds from the pool based on their play in the previous week’s game," NFL said
Now we learn that a largely player financed fund provided bounties to players on the NFL New Orleans Saints over the last three years. $1,000 for a knock out and $1,500 for a cart off. 25 players over three years earned their reward.  A coach administered the fund, the head coach sanctioned it by his silence.

The sheer physical dangers of modern football are well known, and now the deeper dangers of later life crippling or loss of personhood from brain injury.  Football regimes from peewee through high school, college and professional are developing regulations that try to reduce the inevitable damage. The NFL union finally gained significant medical attention in the latest NFL.

Let's not romanticize football. It is hard, harsh and can be physically ugly. Long ago it lost any pretense to sportsmanship and coaches from Vince Lombardi to Bill Belichick mock the notion of football sportsmanship.

What scares me the most, the players did this to themselves. The players contributed the money and egged each other on. As mentioned, the “inmates are running the asylum.” It lets us know the reason why you need outside regulation rather than relying upon 24-28 year old aggressive males caught upon a culture to make rules. As Gregg Williams the coach who arranged it admits "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”

They knew it was wrong! They knew they were maiming their compatriots, this is insane. The money is actually a pittance given the modern salaries but taken seriously for its symbolic importance. They were doing this at the same time retired football players are committing suicide as their brains disintegrate from damage sustained in the game.

Pay to maim moves a very violent sport from controlled violence with intent to win under the rules to rewarded felonious assault. It makes football players criminals.

Now football culture and media attention thrive on the big play and big hit. College players wear stickers on their helmets celebrating big plays. Replays go over it and controlled executed aggression can take on its own fearsome beauty. Even now old defensive players grumble about taking the football out of football, and Mike Golic talks on the ESPN about how this is blown out of proportion.
I am sorry, it is not. You do not violate the basic code of the sport, even one as elastic of footballs, by paying people to purposely injure, damage or maim other players.

Every football player has been injured, often many times. Every football player knows their career can end in a nano-second. A critical unwritten code permits players to play hard but not play to injure or maim,

Pay to maim violates the moral code and justification for football as a game or sport in at least three different ways.

  1. 1)   It disrespects the moral core of the game. The players intend to injure individuals for pay. They unleash their controlled violence not to pursue a designed play. The players act to injure or end the careers of other players,
  2. 2)   It destroys mutual respect among players. It turns fellow players into enemies rather than opponents. The moral structure of sport depends upon that distinction. While football spawns Rex Ryans of the world who think you have to hate your enemies to be effective players, athletic competition requires this distinction. This is even more important in a league where players move contantly and often end up playing with their opponents the next year.
  3. 3)   It violates the contract players make with themselves. No one expects deep rationality from 22-27 year old males embarked on football careers. They all claim to “know” the risks, but no one that age can understand the risk to their future selves and personhood posed by physical disability. They enter the game expecting to risk unintentional injury. They do not expect other players to play or be encouraged by coaches and rewarded to wound them so that they cannot play the game.

Everything about this stinks. Too bad the NFL does not have the power of the NCAA to vacate victories or take away championships because this deserves that treatment. Remember the Saints got to the Super Bowl by injuring Curt Warner and Brett Favre, now we  know why and how.

Careers should end for doing this. The fines should be immense. Suspensions should be long term. Football has to keep pushing on its culture. Even as players push back against Commissioner Goodell, this represents a classic case of needed regulation to protect players from themselves and protect the culture from its worst tendencies. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sports Ethics: "Body of Work" & Responsibility for a Life

People around sports will often refer to a player or coach's body of work in comparison to a particular game, season or even  moment in their career. They point out that sometimes this is the best way to judge a person. This theme arose quite often as individuals struggled to make sense of and eulogize Joe Paterno after his death and in light of the sex abuse scandals that helped end his coaching career. This phrase has wide currency and to me makes a lot of sense.

Body of Work offers a powerful way to view a human being or institution. Looking at the body of work requires a particular moral point of view. It insists that a person or institution should be judged by the entirety of the work they have done, and the entirely makes room for both good and bad. To achieve this point of view a person must step back from the clamor of the moment and call up a person or institution’s history in all its intricacy.

This frame of reference often arises when a person is begin discussed for an award like the Hall of Fames, All American or all star teams. Sometimes it arises when people struggle for eulogies such as people trying to make sense of Coach Joe Paterno’s life given the disgrace of his last months. It invites a person to stand back and assess the history and arc of a life, not just a moment. This approach offsets the American and sports penchant for very short memories and shifting between anger and adulation on the swing of a bat or shot of a ball.

I believe assessments should always try to account for the body of work especially in these broader assessments. I think “body of work” matters because this angle of vision offers individuals the chance for redemption or to balance mistakes or sins.

Let’s face it we all make mistakes and often sin. By sin I mean committing an act we know is wrong, sometimes from lack of courage or negligence or just momentary bad judgement, but we do it. This is not one of those “it is what it is,” this means we blew it. As Tom Brady so succinctly put it at the end of the Western Division NFL championship game, “I sucked big time today.” As coach Mike Krzyewski mentioned on an interview on Joe Paterno, “we all sin.”

Body of Work also matters because it balances off the human memory’s tendency to remember the worst and forget the best. So many people get enshrined for a mistake. Think Bill Buckner in the sixth game of the world series when he booted the ball and the Red Sox went on to lose the series. Many regard this error as definitive proof of the “curse of the Bambino.” It took an entire team to lose the series, but Buckner, a solid and fine player who has gone on successful business and coaching career, is frozen in time with that one error.

I think Body of Work captures nicely the pattern of human life. Our lives have ups and down. We flourish, we fail, we get up or others help us get up. We have good years and bad years. But beneath a good life lies a tenacity to achieve and colleagues and friends who help each other along the way.
An individual can view life the same way. Seeing life as a body of work enables a person to forge a moral balance. We make mistakes or we may do the wrong thing. We know it and accept responsibility. We may pay for our mistakes in humiliation or like Michael Vick and his infamous treatment of dog betting, going to jail. But each of us can work to right the moral balance with actions to help or build up the good. People perform penance for wrong done and redeem themselves all the time. Mortal men and women strive to rectify and learn from mistakes and overcome the failures.

So body of work matters for assessing a career by others but also by myself. Italian renaissance thinkers believed that creating our own life is our greatest work of art. They believed each of us carries a responsibility to fashion moral balance and beauty in our life, even with our flaws.

We respect a life, not just a moment. Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers has struggled with addiction and alcoholism for years. Recently he relapsed. Appearing before the media, he reiterated his own faith and insisted, "I could hide in shame and not show up tonight and be withdrawn, but I didn't want to do that…I'm doing what I had to do today. I am fessing up. I am going to be a man about it, I am fessing up. People are going to call me a hypocrite, but I am a sinful man."

Granted any good spin-doctor will script such a phrase, and people like Tiger Wood or Bill Clinton live and die by the repetition of such a script. But even its abuse suggests the strength of this life narrative. The body of work offer all of us, mortals and hypocrits, the opportunity to restore a moral balance. My own religious tradition insists that we do not need to be good per se, but if we act as if we are good, we may grow into integrity.

The conflicted and tortured eulogies around the death and burial of Joe Paterno at Penn State reflect this. People wanted to acknowledge the power of his body of work but somehow ignore or downplay the moral failure around the child abuse.

I think of another approach. Joe Paterno was no saint. College coaching is not a profession for saints. He was hard nosed, demanding, ref baiting, domineering but he could touch certain type of young man and help him grow into a better human being. If we do not demand that he or anyone be a saint but a mortal flawed human capable of good and bad, integrity and error, then the remembrance becomes less torturous.

He permitted his considerable reputation and winning to benefit Penn State University. He also made a moral mistake and abetted by negligence a culture that hid a pattern of child abuse. As a Catholic he would have known well the desire to do penance and right the moral balance. But judgment balance by the body of his work.

Body of work builds on the metaphor of humans as artists, but it may be too kind. It suggests a coherence or orderliness while I think our lives possess immense chaos and randomness. We struggle to give it shape and meaning with effort, grace and a little help from our friends. We should always remember this in judging.