Happy Valley

Our handcuffs of paper clips and pumping gas are vicariously broken by their accomplishments we see ourselves into.
Share |

Some image information.

“A hero cannot be a hero unless in a heroic world.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sports crystallize the hopes of our better angels. Watching games can clear an upward arc from the banality of our lives to the heroic world Hawthorne referenced. Athletes play, coaches coach. We root. They win. We win. Our handcuffs of paper clips and pumping gas are vicariously broken by their accomplishments we see ourselves into. Gods are created by humans in part because it is lonely down here.

But there is a danger in becoming more than human. It can lead to doing things that a human should not.

This is the flipside to sports, and to fandom’s projection of a million wants into one body at one moment in time.  As heroes go up, so must many come down.   Call it the Mike Tyson effect.

***

The problem with sports is relatively simple. As it is a sublimating cultural force that gives both power and something like divine grace to many ill-equipped to deal with it. This can end horrifically, as it recently has in Happy Valley.

Of course the end is not always this tragic. There are sports heroes who stayed pure, despite the propensity for hero worship to bring out Black Swan-ish dark sides: Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, and Pat Tillman come to mind. Not all were fairy tales, yet their feats stood to soothe the ills of their respective times. Owens and Robinson: blacks in a white man’s world; King: a woman in a man’s world; Tillman: selfless in a selfish world. In each case, it was as if their immunity to succumbing occurred because their heroisms traced the curve of a societal crisis—their career  powered by a crowd-sourced need for personal courage and success if only to provide the image required to move civilization forward.

But this is rare. Much more often our heroes succumb after a run of success. We saw it just this summer. The Red Sox, a team and manager that had so recently cured a bad a dose of civic insecurity as ever there was—even they cracked, imploding like a supernova. And what’s worse, the former heroes were sadistically recast: Francona a monster, Beckett a toxic dick.

As a society we need our heroes to remain so, or else they ruin the reason to cheer. Which brings us to Penn State.

***

In the case of Jerry Sandusky, it was not so much the pressure to be great that felled him as much as it was a kernel of evil inside that ate up all that was said to be great around him. But the sins of that man are not the point here—those sins are laid out for all to see in the now-open hurt of the children he hurt. 

What is the point was Sandusky was not stopped and was allowed a career of molestation that grew around their touchdowns.  He was allowed this because the alternative appeared worse: ruining the reason to cheer. After all, Happy Valley largely existed because of football. And so Sandusky was protected by a deep, universal need for heroics, for something greater.

Not JoePa. Anybody but JoePa. We can’t…

These horrors will not bring Paterno down, will they? One “tiny” sickness will not smash up Happy Valley. But unfortunately, these horrors did just that. JoePa was not too big to fail. But the denial of what happened at PSU continues, even after the truth and its consequences became clear.

On TV on Thursday night, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The smile on JoePa’s face. Standing in front of his house, in the light of the cameras, against the backdrop of a caved-in central PA night, he stood there before a cheering crowd. The rooters were chest-painted and picked at the victims’ pain with their chanting. They had made a mountain of this man and were not going to let it crumble.  Despite the reality of it all. Despite the fact that the optics of their denial did not wear well.

Yet the saddest part of a very sad scene was Paterno’s perhaps involuntary reaction: smiling, cheering back. In an instant, the mythical genealogy, from God to Rockne to Lombardi to JoePa to god, from god to family to football—it was all broken, unchained by the emptiest of smiles that was in fact one of the unhappiest things I have ever seen.

Of course, by now another hero has fallen. But this crash is louder than Tyson or Tiger or steroids or point-shaving. The entire theater is crashing down around us. Leaving the loneliness to sit resting in the valley perhaps heavier than it ever has before.

 

[[nid:48]]

Share |

Comments

Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?
Oneplus 5 singapore

yet I put things off an excessive amount of and never appear to begin. Much obliged however. Oppo R11s Plus Singapore

The results were even better when artemisinin was used in combination with iron. pr for horse industry

Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much.
new york pr agencies

I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. publicist

I suppose you will keep the quality work going on. publicist

I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you know.
tech pr

This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives in depth information. Thanks for this nice article. căn hộ chung cư hạ long

Interesting and amazing how your post is! It Is Useful and helpful for me That I like it very much, and I am looking forward to Hearing from your next.. chong lao hoa da tuoi 40

I suppose you will keep the quality work going on. chong lao hoa da tuoi 40

nice post very useful for me thank you for sharing . laptop cu

You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people.
laptop cu gia re

therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. visit this

therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. visit this

I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information.
check my profile

I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have a nice weekend. freetins

In my experience, you do the truly amazing.Truly i'm impressed out of this publish
for android

I suppose you will keep the quality work going on.
ao nang nam

which is very enjoyable, but I need to additional expand. Regards. ao chong nang cho nam

therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
xe mercedes c300 giá bao nhiêu

informative post and your post looks very interesting for me. oto mercedes c300

Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first”. giao vien yoga

than this from you and you have not disappointed me at all. tri c blackboard

truly adored reading your posting. Thank you! csusb blackboard

My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more! visit this

Wonderful blog post. This is absolute magic from you! I have never seen a more wonderful post than this one.
check my profile

Please continue this great work and I look forward to more of your awesome blog posts. goevo

Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! goevo

190,000+ PhenQ user's comments, testimonials & reviews from all over the web.
m2ufree

Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful!
m2ufree

I am hoping to offer something again and aid others like you aided me. south florida pr agencies

I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site south florida pr agencies

Yes, great US Military force. Also, in his post you have given a chance to listen about US Military.steroids for sale

Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it. do legal steroids work

My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. sending a pr release

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job! encryption

Extraordinary article with astounding idea!Thank you for such a significant article. I truly acknowledge for this awesome data. making affiliate commissions

Hollo+Kwan is an African inspired fashion marketplace with bespoke original swimwear, casual and home decor collections. making affiliate commissions

My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more! startup pr firms

This is a wonderful article, Given so much info in it, These type of articles keeps startup pr firms

I found that site very usefull and this survey is very cirious, I ' ve never seen a blog that demand a survey for this actions, very curious... free press release

on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan! free press release

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. academic writing services

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job! academic writing help

You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site. boom mobile plans

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job! Best Cellular phones

I discovered your site ideal for me. It consists of wonderful and useful posts. I've read many of them and also got so much from them. In my experience, you do the truly amazing.Truly i'm impressed out of this publish Tannlege budapest

I like viewing web sites which comprehend the price of delivering the excellent useful resource free of charge. I truly adored reading your posting. Thank you! Tannleger i Ungarn

Excellent information on your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us. retro bowling shirts uk

Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first”. retro shops uk