Writing about Penn State football used to be enjoyable.
Now it's mostly depressing.
Before November, 2011, when the whole sordid Sandusky scandal came fully to light, the biggest problems in Happy Valley were quarterback controversies, suspect play calling and recruiting failures.
In the grand scheme of things, none of it really mattered much. It was just fun and games. After all, that is what sports are really all about. It's a chance to escape the stress-filled realities of daily life for a few hours by watching superb athletes compete in an intense, fascinating game. It's pure entertainment.
For the last eight months, however, the real world has overtaken our fun and games -- and that shows no signs of changing anytime soon.
Each week seems to bring new revelations of one kind or another, and there are surely many more to come. The Freeh Report is due Thursday. The NCAA and Big Ten are each looking into the scandal. The trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are looming. And the state may not be done filing charges.
There's just no end in sight.
That is not to say that the Sandusky scandal shouldn't be investigated completely and thoroughly. It should. The victims deserve no less.
Each new revelation should also be reported fairly and accurately by the media. That is our job and our duty.
But it sure isn't fun or enjoyable. In fact, it's downright depressing. This scandal reveals human nature at its very worst.
There was a monster roaming loose in Happy Valley, preying on the young and defenseless. That is horrific enough. But powerful men, who were in a position to stop him, did little or nothing to prevent his hideous crimes, apparently more concerned with protecting Penn State's "brand" than the safety of children.
The 2012 Penn State football season is scheduled to start in exactly 52 days. It's impossible to predict what will transpire in this sad, ugly case between then and now.
You can be pretty sure about one thing, however. The sense of anticipation and joy that normally accompanies a PSU football opener will be sorely lacking in Nittany Nation.
Yes, PSU football will still be covered this fall. We will still likely report on quarterback controversies, suspect play calling and recruiting failures.
But it won't be the same.
Our fun and games have been overshadowed by fear and loathing.
That's yet another crime that you can place at Mr. Sandusky's feet.
-- Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@york dispatch.com or at 854-1575, ext. 455.