If you look through these postings, I don’t think I’ve ever really written about a high-profile issue in the headlines before. Being stuck on the west coast, awake at 3am…well the only thing on tv is ESPN so I ended up hearing about a lot of the developments involving the former Penn State coach now accused of 80+ counts of child molestation. Since then, Joe Pa has been fired. Inevitably, there have been many people expressing almost equal dismay over the firing as the abuse.
I am not a football coach.
I am also not or have ever been a Division I football player.
Basically, I know nothing at all what is involved in running a program like Penn State’s so my comments probably have limited value.
What I will say or think I know is this:
one man — a serial pedophile if the charges hold up– does not commit 80+ counts of child molestation without many many people turning a blind eye. I’m sure there were rumors or chatter, and guessing further that flags were raised but no one seems to have done anything..with a few exceptions. Those who did raise concerns did not follow through enough to engage law enforcement. Seemingly, to protect the program.
Now hindsight is always 20/20. The bottom line is that this entire situation is appalling. If there’s ANYTHING that can be taken away from the situation it’s clearly two things: 1) act if in doubt, 2) do not prioritize sports above life.
Should Coach Paterno have been fired? Yes. At the end of the day, the coach is responsible for his staff, his students and himself. Lot of responsibility. But coach has probably known that for a long time. Part of me wonders if it had been a different situation reported, such as a young woman being attacked, would everyone have reacted differently. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I absolutely think the firing was the correct thing to do and am hopeful that more will follow. To those who say the man deserved more after 46yrs as a coach, I counter with those young boys deserved more and will likely be haunted by this for the next 40 yrs. As a coach, he minimally followed the letter of the child protection laws and definitely did not follow the spirit of the law.
Seeing students hold a vigil for the victims was certainly a step in the right direction from earlier riots. The failure by many students and fans to grasp the significance and devastation these acts inflicted on the victims really highlighted how we rank sports ahead of everything in our society. Sports has a role, I just wish it wasn’t placed so highly ahead of just about everything.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families as they must now deal with an unthinkable tragedy while also being thrust in the spotlight.