Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Legacy, Honor and Scandal at Penn State
And just like that, the walls of an institution come tumbling down.
I don't know if the allegations against Jerry Sandusky are true. I'm not privy to what Joe Paterno knew, or what he told and who he told it to. I'm unclear about how far up the alleged cover-up went.
All I know is that it makes me feel sick, shocked and jaded.
The Penn State Nitany Lions are one of the most revered programs in all of college football. Even a casual fan knows about the school's storied history. We all know about the legacy of Joe Paterno and his tradition of winning.
All of that means nothing now. Not after something like this. Not while so many questions remain unanswered.
How could no one step up and stop this?
Because of so many selfish reasons. Wanting to protect a friend. Wanting to protect your own skin. Wanting to save a successful football program. And everyone bought into this mentality. From Sandusky for allegedly doing it in the first place, to Paterno for not telling police, to the higher ups at the university for doing nothing once they were told. One by one, the dominoes fell.
How could this happen at Penn State, where they are all about honor and tradition?
Unfortunately, it's becoming clear that those are simply buzz words to bolster recruiting and increase donations to the athletic department. Really, it's all about keeping the money coming, no matter who gets hurt.
Why didn't Paterno go to the police?
Because he's either a selfish football coach wanting to avoid scandal at his program, or because he's a loony old man who didn't know any better. Neither of which excuses what he failed to do. As a leader of young mean, he failed in his responsibility.
It's all coming out how about the hypocrisy of this major football program. All of the accolades, honor, and legacy with that school and team don't mean anything if no one steps up and does the right thing.
It's ironic that it's exactly that honor and legacy that led to this downfall. Paterno was protecting a longtime friend and assistant coach. Paterno, in turn, was having his legacy protected by school administrators who know how important the coach is in college football history. Because these men put so much stock in a tradition of winning and excellence, they completely shut themselves off from the horrible actions that were taking place.
To them, football was more important over whether kids were raped.
And all that honor and integrity allowed it to go unpunished.