Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is It Really A Tragedy That Joe Paterno Isn't Going to Coach Another Game?

In what has been the biggest story in the sports world in some time, the Penn State Child Sex Abuse Scandal has eclipsed most other news stories in the past week.

I argue that it shouldn't really be a sports story.  Sure, it's being debated hotly by every sports talk show in the nation every day this week, and the key figures in the story are tied to the football program, but this is a tragic social event that has little to do with the game of football.

It's NOT BECAUSE IT'S THE END OF JOE PATERNO'S CAREER.  Let's stop making JoePa a victim in all this.  The true victims are those kids that were abused by Sandusky.  Joe Paterno losing his job is a fitting punishment to a guy who probably shouldn't have been coaching in the first place.

Sexual abuse of a child is a horrific, horrific thing.  I know someone who was sexually abused as a child and it has had far-reaching negative effects on their entire lives.  It ruins kids before they ever have a chance.

So, spare me the "poor JoePa" crap.  The man is supposed to be such a legend, such a force for good.  Witness the reaction of so many Penn State students and alums as they rally around the guy.  They love him, trust him.

It's a fair bet none of their kids were taken by Sandusky into the showers of the football locker room.

There's really no defense for Paterno.  Just like there's no defense for the graduate assistant (now an assistant on the Penn State football team).  The former grad assistant should have stopped the heinous act he witnessed.  Likewise, when he told Paterno what he saw, Paterno should have done more.  He told the AD, but when the AD and President did nothing, Paterno still had a duty to that child.

Again, is Paterno not larger than life? Is he not a God around that campus?? Isn't his word law? Hasn't he basically kept his job because he's such a mythical figure on campus?

If he had lifted ONE FINGER (whichever one he needed to dial the police) to report this act, this would have been cleared years ago.  Paterno would have been a bigger hero than he is now to Penn State.

His reactions this week have also been less than admirable.  His statement today was a very selfish, proud refusal to be punished.  As I listened to the statement, I thought I was going to hear something I didn't.  Here are some quotes:
"The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling. If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families."
This angered me because he wasn't truly taking responsibility. He's saying that he was fooled, but were a lot of other people!!
"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."
What exactly is the tragedy? That he's losing his job? That the University has been so scarred?

I truly thought the end of that statement would be something about helping abused boys.  About righting a wrong.  However, instead, once again, he shows where his true loyalties lie.  He's sorry about the boys, but he'll do everything he can to help Penn State.  Here's another issue:
"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can."
Joe Paterno does not get to decide what his punishment should be.  Simply retiring at the end of the season is not punishment, not really.  Punishment would be getting being forced to leave a job early.  Paterno isn't leaving earlier than he should be. He should have left years ago. So him simply retiring after a few more games is not even a slap on the wrist.

As I was writing this post, the news broke that Paterno is being fired and that the Penn State President is resigning.  At the very least, those in charge of the University seem to be realizing their true duty in all this, unlike the gentleman in power who all turned their eyes from the monster in their midst.

I'm glad that Penn State has decided to not allow Paterno to coach anymore.  Forget who he is.  Remember what he didn't do.  That won't be his legacy at Penn State, but it will be what people around the country remember him for in many years to come.

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