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SMITH COLUMN: Stories like one with Sandusky can be avoided

June 23, 2012


The Jerry Sandusky story is indeed a sad one.

It's tough to see a college football coach who once had so much promise and was once in line to replace legend Joe Paterno at Penn State get mixed up in something that he couldn't shake.

Sandusky was caught in a sexual abuse scandal at the school and on Friday night, a Pennsylvania jury found him guilty on 45 of 48 counts of assault. Now, Sandusky will most likely spent the rest of his life in prison.

Sometimes in sports, there comes a time when we have to deal with real life issues and they can be unpleasant.

We can all learn something from the Sandusky situation.

If there ever comes a time when something starts moving in the wrong direction in life, we have one of two paths to take. We can continue down a road that leads to negative consequences, or we can turn things around and opt for a different way.

Individuals can be influenced to move away from situations that get them in trouble.

Somewhere along the way, someone should have pulled Sandusky to the side and let him know the error of his ways. Now that Sandusky has been found guilty on so many fronts, it has become obvious that he committed these horrible acts.

Much of the information about what went on during that time at Penn State will probably never be revealed and as graphic as some of the testimony was in that case, there are some other things we probably couldn't stand to hear.

It just seems that all of this could have been avoided.

The people in charge at Penn State, including the late Paterno himself, should have dealt with Sandusky early in the process. It ended up costing people their jobs and hurting the school tremendously.

That's probably why there are going to be other penalties for those close to Penn State and the school before the entire ordeal is put to rest and it could take a while. The NCAA will probably be knocking on the door of Penn State soon. That's going to be unfortunate for the coaches and players that are there now trying to clean up the mess.

There is an awesome responsibility for family, friends and neighbors to help those who may be involved with something that they shouldn't be.

Coaches are charged with taking care of players on or off the field. They have the authority to instruct and encourage their players, while parents have the authority to do the same thing at home.

For coaches, whenever there's the slightest hint of NCAA trouble or if they become aware that one of their players is about to make the wrong decision, they can step in and do something about it. If the situation goes without some sort of intervention, then problems begin to emerge. There will come a point where the damage can't be undone.

Everyone has trouble and there are no perfect people. Only one in the history of the world was perfect.

Mistakes are going to be made in life, but it's important to recognize short-comings immediately and make up for it before it becomes too late.

It's wise to consider a phrase from Barney Fife, the deputy of sheriff Andy Taylor from the popular television show Andy Griffith, when he said "just nip it in the bud."

There would be much fewer of the Jerry Sanduskys in the world if we were to follow that philosophy.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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