Nike CEO Phil Knight argues that Joe Paterno, the late Penn State football coach, is not responsible for any of that school's child molestation scandal. The real villains, Knight claims, are the university trustees who fired Paterno in the wake of the scandal. Paterno, says Knight, did all he needed to do when he told university officials that he had heard something about his former assistant coach who is now charged with having sex with children.
Jeez Phil, even Joe Pa said he wished he had done more when he heard about the possibility of child molestation in the Penn State locker room. But Knight knows better; he knows Joe Pa did enough. And it follows that if the folks who fired Paterno are the villains, then Paterno must be the victim in this scandal.
And here I thought the victims were the children allegedly molested by Jerry Sandusky. But then, I understand how Knight might get confused about this.
After all, Knight has gained much of his wealth and power from the exploitation of children who make Nike products overseas. Nike contractors employ children who work such long hours that few of them have time to go to school. And they get paid a paltry wage for toiling in unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
Sports columnist and author Dave Zirin might not be too far from the truth when he says, "Given the gravity of these conditions, I have no problem writing that Jerry Sandusky, if guilty of every charge, would have to live 100 lives to ruin the number of childhoods emblemized by the Nike swoosh."