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Leave Paterno Alone

8 Nov

By now anyone that has switched on a sports game/ news station or turned on a computer (I’m talking to YOU) has heard about the Jerry Sandusky trial. The former Penn State coach has been charged with 40+ counts of child molestation

I recently read an article (followed by several other articles) calling for Paterno’s resignation after an incident one of his associates reported seeing involving Sandusky and a boy in the campus locker room. Paterno has said that the reports weren’t specific in nature, but he still called in the issue and did everything he was supposed to. The author of t his article admitted that Paterno and the PSU President Graham Spanier did everything they were supposed to, as far as calling in and reporting the incident to the authorities they were required to report to, but they didn’t do enough. What is enough in this instance? They banned him from interacting with children on campus, but they had no substantial evidence to back up claims, so firing him without just cause wouldn’t be legal.

The article asked, “Where was Spanier’s concern when he first heard about the investigation?” Imagine if a person you knew was suddenly exposed as this horrible monster. To say that these people weren’t concerned is idiotic. It is impossible not to be concerned in this situation, but I believe concerns shift away from the media and more towards the inner workings of your institution. Spanier and Paterno had students, family members, coworkers and friends that also need their attention through all of this. It’s silly that these days, if a person doesn’t jump up and issue  press release right away about something, they are seen as fishy or suspicious and get burned in the media witch hunt.

This article says that Paterno should be allowed to “finish out the year and step down with honor and admiration”. Well, I’m so glad that a publication is giving him that honor! Hey, Joe: don’t let us boot you out the door this very minute, let us do so in a month or two so that we can pull your name through the muck a little longer and then let you “step down with honor and admiration.” Could they be any more reasonable and caring!? I think not!

I think that Paterno is being attacked because he is the only really popular name that the media can use to attack. Here is one of the most famous coaches in NCAA history. What is Paterno supposed to teach his “kids” by resigning and (previously) firing this coach before a just and fair trial? Is he supposed to give into the media witch hunt? To step aside and let everything that the justice system of this country stands for because you run a highly publicized football program? One day some of his players will be in the professional media spotlight on their own, and I hope that through his sensible and reasonable actions that they will learn to react the same in their own situations.

To generalize Paterno’s 45-year career through one incident that has just begun to unfold in the media with a minimal amount of actual facts related to Paterno is just bad journalism. I’m so tired of the media frivolously throwing people’s names around to create a story. None of us have the full facts on how Paterno acted, and no one knows how much he knew about Sandusky, so who are we to judge? Think about it, if you knew a guy was doing something so horrible for so long, how could you not speak up? To think that he wouldn’t is what is really ridiculous. I would hope that people within my own profession would try and see things through a more logical perspective, but it seems that all sensibility has been thrown out the window when it comes to this story.

I can understand why people are passionate about it, trust me, I am too. When I first heard about the news I was in a bar with some friends, and it took a lot for me not to cry thinking about the idea that so many children could have been hurt so horribly. Passion is fitting in this instance, but through that I believe that the stronger person will be able to find sensibility in this issue of Paterno and his staff that are not accused. You don’t build a team as loved and respected as the Nittany Lions without having a strong sense of moral judgement, and someone like Paterno deserves the respect that he has earned.

So leave Paterno alone, at least until the actual courts decide what happened, not the media.