Penn State Scandal: Students Have Misplaced Adoration

Ed JackoCorrespondent INovember 9, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 08: Penn State University students sing outside of the home of head football coach Joe Paterno during November 8, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Behind Paterno is his son Scott Paterno  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

“I can’t tell you how much this means to me.  I’ve lived for this place.  I’ve lived for people like you guys and girls,” (via ESPN).

If only it were true, Joe.

Joe Paterno may have been moved by the outpouring of support that awaited him as he arrived home from practice last night, but he should have been greeted by silence.

Perhaps then he would have heard the voices of those who have yet to speak, the victims of Jerry Sandusky.

College students tend to be driven by emotion.  As most of us over the age of thirty can attest, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Joe Paterno was made aware that a longtime friend, a man once entrusted with the weekly fate of Penn State’s defense, was abusing a child.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Whether he knew all the facts at the moment, whether he had concerns that his graduate assistant was seeing things clearly, he had an obligation to determine for himself what had gone on in the football complex he built.

Instead, he did what he was legally bound to do.  He told his boss.

Anywhere else, at any other campus, this would have bordered on reprehensible behavior.  But this was not any other campus, this was Penn State.

And let’s be clear about one other fact—Joe Paterno has no boss at Penn State.  He hasn’t for nearly forty years.  In State College, Pennsylvania there is no one that JoePa is required to answer to.

“We are Penn State!”

Hundreds, to perhaps thousands, of Penn State students shouted those words in front of Beaver Stadium last night.  They echoed those words as they marched from campus to Paterno’s home.

Regardless of how many emotions were stirred in the hearts of those students, no matter how enamored they have become with the legend of their coach, those words should have been saved for game day.

Imagine for a moment being one of the boys, now young men, who had their childhood taken away from them on the campus of Penn State by Joe Paterno’s trusted former assistant. 

How tempted do you think they were to join in the refrain, and shout, “We are Penn State!?”

A sophomore attending the rally put it this way, “Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a tragedy, everything that happened.  But we support JoePa.  JoePa is a part of Penn State" (via ESPN).

The real tragedy is the blind adoration that oozes from that statement.

Yes, it is horrible that a former assistant coach was using the facilities of the Penn State football team to molest boys.  And, yes, Joe Paterno should have done something more to put an end to it, but he’s a great guy who has been here a long time and won a lot of football games.

Isn’t that what the student is really saying?

Another undergrad held up a sign denouncing the role played by athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for business and finance, Gary Schultz, in tarnishing the reputation of Penn State.

But that undergrad was upset by the news that Paterno may be forced out.

Why the double standard?

Burn Schultz and Curley at the stake for not seeing to it that Sandusky received whatever punishment fit the crime, but give Paterno a pass for doing essentially the same thing?

Oh, that’s right.  Schultz and Curly weren’t prowling the sidelines each Saturday in the fall bringing glory and honor to good ‘ol Penn State.

Be proud of what Joe Paterno has accomplished on the field.  Sing songs around the bonfire celebrating his legend for eons after his retirement.  But not now.

Today is a time for seeking justice.  Today is a time to comfort those who were abused.

Today is not the time to celebrate Joe Paterno.


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