Penn State scandal shocking - on many levels
Late Wednesday night, Pennsylvania State University announced that it was firing head football coach Joe Paterno and University President Graham Spainer.
These events took place in the wake of a massive scandal in the football program at the universty stemming from charges against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky alleging that he sexually abused multiple young boys during and after his time as coach.
The story surrounding Sandusky is shocking enough, but the reaction of Paterno makes the scandal even more horrifying.
To give some perspective, Paterno was informed in 2002 that Sandusky had been seen in the locker room of the football complex on campus behaving inappropriatley with a 10-year-old boy. Sandusky was actually seen raping the boy, but it is unclear how many details Paterno knew about his incident.
Nevertheless, the only action Paterno decided to take was to inform administration members about the event that took place. The administration members clearly did not take enough action, as they decided not to inform the police. But, instead of taking action (which as a human being he was MORALLY OBLIGED to do), Paterno turned his back on the events and allowed Sandusky to continue his employment at the school, and possibly allowed a pedophile to continue preying on young boys.
But, the story just gets worse. Sandusky was finally arrested this Sunday, November 6th. This took the entire college football community and, quite frankly, the entire United States by utter and complete surprise. There is almost no doubt that Sandusky is guilty of the charges (due to the number of different charges against him), but the real surprise comes from Paterno's reaction to what happened.
The honorable thing to do would have been for Paterno to immediately step down as coach (although even then it would not have been nearly enough to repent for the multiple lives that have been destroyed by Sandusky). Instead, the 84-year-old attempted to maintain his job as head coach. This move shows utter dilusion, and a complete disunderstanding of reality on the part of Paterno.
Paterno should feel ashamed for the everything that has happend over the past eight years (since his discovery of Sandusky's behavior). It is a shame that all this is happening to Paterno. The former coach had been at Penn State for 46 years, amassing 409 victories and creating a unique program in that he valued academics as highly as athletics.
However, it is not just the wicked behavior of the Penn State coaching staff and administration that is troubling. What is even more alarming is the riotous actions of thousands of irresponsible, ignorant and insensitive students in Happy Valley. These students seem to have forgotten that we live in a world where there are more important things than the outcome of a football game. Their regrettable delusion has resulted in a massive scar on the face of Pennsylvania's most recognizable university.
The fact of the matter is that this isn't the first time that what is now the former administration at Penn State has turned a blind eye to a clear pattern of abuse by one of their coaches. Rene Portland, a highly successful women's basketball coach was known for her three training rules. No drinking, no drugs and no lesbians. Portland created such a hostile and homophobic attitude in Happy Valley, that a former player was compelled to create a documentary surrounding Portland's abhorrent actions.
The documentary, entitled "Training Rules", was an enormous success, in that it eventually brought down Portland. The documentary detailed that PSU administrators and coaches where perfectly aware of Portland's rules, but were perfectly content to keep her on as head coach, as long as she continued to win.
The sad reality is that Paterno's superiors at Penn State have chosen to put winning over the emotional well-being of their community. If there is anything positive to take from this, it is that these former figures in higher education will be forced to live with the demons that will haunt them in the wake of their heinous actions.