On Penn State

I’m a Penn State fan.  I grew up watching Kerry Collins play football and then going out in the backyard and trying to sling the ball through the tire swing just like him.  I lifted weights every summer because I wanted to go to Penn State and play football for Joe Paterno.

The purpose of that narrative is to demonstrate that when you’re involved in a situation, whether it be extremely positive or extremely negative, you need to be able to analyze a situation dispassionately.  If you cannot look at a situation objectively, you’re not going to be able to contribute in rational discourse about it.  I’m not speaking in hypotheticals right now.  I’m talking about what’s happening at Penn State University.  Whether you played football there, earned your college degree there, or have bled blue and white for decades, you still need to be able to stop and put things into perspective right now.

Gerald Sandusky

Former Penn State football coach Gerald Sandusky.

This is the Grand Jury Presentment regarding the Gerald Sandusky rape charges.  If you’re at all squeamish, I wouldn’t suggest readingmuch further.  Below is a portion of the presentment regarding Victim 2.

Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Gerald Sandusky raping a child in a Penn State locker room.  This is what’s reported in the testimony.

“As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on.  He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds.  He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity.  As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower.  He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.  The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him.  The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.”

The report continues later:

“Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant’s report at his home on a Saturday morning.”

The rest of the report is stomach churning and, quite frankly, one of the most disturbing things I have read.  Further on in the report concerning Victim 2, they clearly explain that Paterno reported this incident to Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director at the time.

One thing that I have found particularly agitating has been that a select few students at Penn State University clearly cannot detach themselves from their love of Penn State football and Joe Paterno.  Joe Paterno might be a Penn State legend.  Joe Paterno might be a college football legend.  Joe Paterno is also a central figure in the ongoing investigation of the sexual abuse of several children by former Penn State football coach Gerald Sandusky.

Regardless of your opinion of Joe Paterno as a football coach; regardless of what Joe Paterno did for Penn State University and the surrounding communities; regardless of whether you scream ‘We are!  Penn State!” at Beaver Stadium on Saturdays, you need to understand that Joe Paterno made a mistake.  He openly admitted to making a mistake when he told the press, “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.”

Joe Paterno did nothing wrong in the eyes of the law.  He was a mandated reporter who informed his superior of a situation regarding the rape of a child in a locker room.   When it comes to child rape, however, that’s not enough.  When someone rapes a child on the facilities that you run, it’s your ethical responsibility to ensure that situation is taken care of.  Joe Paterno did not ensure that happened.  And for that he was held accountable with his job.  If you feel that is too harsh of a punishment for a man who didn’t follow through on the rape of a child in his locker room, you may need to stop and put things into perspective regarding this issue.

If things were put into perspective, would people be rioting because Joe Paterno was fired or because little children were repeatedly and knowingly raped on their campus by an accused sexual predator for ten years?

Football will still exist following Joe Paterno’s departure.  You needn’t mourn for his loss.  You should mourn for those kids who were abused repeatedly by the inaction of people like Joe Paterno.


One Response to On Penn State

  1. shade55 says:

    Thanks Andy for putting this in perspective. Diana

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