“Two wrongs don’t make a right.” It’s a lesson taught from the time we start grade school … at least most us. But it seems as if maybe, just maybe, no one at Penn State University ever heard of it before.
Saturday marked the beginning of a new era in college football: the Paterno-less Era. But it all started with arguably the saddest day in football on Wednesday night. Rewind even further, and you have one of the most gut-wrenching stories breaking ground.
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 40 accounts of sexual abuse. The incidents were said to have taken place on university grounds and former head coach Joe Paterno was said to have been told by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who witnessed an alleged sexual encounter between Sandusky and a 10-year old boy in the showers of the Nittany Lions’ locker rooms. Paterno then told the athletic director, Tim Curley, and interim vice president for finance and business, Gary Schultz.
The problem: No one called the police. And when I say no one, I mean no one. Not Paterno, not Curley, not Schultz, not McQueary, not any of the parents. No one.
Many in the nation were in total and utter disgust at the situation, but somehow all of the anger got channeled directly to Paterno. The Daily Collegian even put his picture on the front page of their paper with a stamp that read “shame.” Not the face of Sandusky, the man who was allegedly destroying the lives of children for his own enjoyment and pleasure. Not the Nittany Lions football logo or school logo, which would encompass much more the totality of those involved. Nope, it was just Paterno, who told higher ups and was one of many who did not call the police.
Talks of Paterno being fired quickly spread and his weekly press conference was canceled. Everyone believed it to be the best move not only for the University, but for Paterno as well. Then Wednesday afternoon, before the Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet, Paterno spoke from a window in his house and told those gathered there he would finish the 2011 season, after which he would retire.
At about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday a news conference with the Board of Trustees was televised. Vice chairman John Surma announced the decision to fire Paterno was made “after careful deliberations and in the best interest of the University as a whole.”
Before the questions from media poured in, Surma said himself the board “[does] not yet know all of the facts and there are many details that are yet to be worked out.”
How can you make a careful decision in a matter of days if you do not know all of the facts? It’s more a matter of doing what you think will turn heads away from the sex scandals that allegedly took place on your campus and turn everyone’s attention to the fact a legendary career was just brought to a streaking halt. And in the board’s efforts to save face of the university a riot broke out just minutes later.
Nice job; you have officially been counter-productive in that matter.
Not to mention the board made Paterno aware his career was over in a manner you could say was not “for the glory.” Paterno received a letter that told him to call the vice chair, who proceeded to give him the news. You can’t tell him in person?
Call him and tell him yourself? He has to call you? Two possibilities here: You’re cowards or you’re wrong and very well aware of it.
Then, at about one in the morning, ESPN released a statement from McQueary saying he had not told Paterno to his face, which leaves ambiguity as far as context clues and nonverbals, and what Paterno did know were vague details of what McQueary had seen, none of which included rape.
So why, then, does Paterno lose his job but McQueary does not? Of course, after threats were given, McQueary is now on administrative leave. But should it take threats for him if it didn’t take threats toward Paterno?
And while all of this turmoil swarms around Paterno and taints his legacy, where is the man who was allegedly raping children, who destroyed the lives of at least eight boys? Oh, Sandusky, nobody cares about him right now; it’s about the only man who will turn in huge headlines and unlimited views.
If you are one of those people who truly believe everyone else in this situation has theirs coming for them, I beg to differ. No one, other than the victims, will be hurt more by this situation than Paterno. He was a man who gave his entire life not just to the sport of football, but to countless players, students and the university as a whole. And he never asked for anything in return but to die on the gridiron and be remembered for how he helped Penn State.
Paterno has expressed his regret toward the situation, and even that statement has been turned around into, “See, even he says he should have done more.”
“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
Hindsight is 20/20. With what he knew in 2002, Paterno could not see the severity of this situation. But as he discovers the truth of the matter and what really went on he wishes he had done more. Who wouldn’t? He’s not an evil, corrupt, sick man – that’s Sandusky. He’s a selfless man of integrity who only wanted to help people.
Meanwhile, ESPN continues to express its sorrow for the victims of these sex crimes and reminds us every two minutes that they are what this is really about, they are who really matters; not football, not Penn State and not Paterno.
If that’s the case, then take their humiliating story off of national television. Broadcasting the pain those children. went and still go through all day on TV – the nation’s leading sports network, for that matter – is not going to help them in the slightest way.
When something changes, let us know. When people are hired and fired, let us know. But the healing process for these boys does not begin with firing Paterno if they are going to constantly be reminded of the pain they allegedly experienced. You, just like the majority of this nation’s top dogs, are not worried about our children. At the end of the day, all you care about is how many people are turned in to your station, at whatever expense.