Friday, February 17, 2012

Athletes tainted by mistakes: Joe Pa



        We have seen this all before, haven't we? A famous icon from the sports world fall from grace. Time and time again, the unthinkable happens. And the scandal surrounding the final months of Joe Paterno's coaching career and life were no different. No matter what part of the country you are in, it has been nearly impossible to avoid the sad saga encompassing Penn State University, Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky and the children whom were victimized.
         If by some chance you have lived on a country other than earth the last 60 years, then i will share with you what i am eluding to. Joe Paterno is the winningest coach in College football history with over 800 victories. He was a head coach for the last 46 years of those 60 that he coached, surpassing Bear Bryant over 10 years ago. Now enter into the picture Jerry Sandusky. An assistant coach on staff at Penn State for 32 years. During the  tenure of Jerry Sandusky's career, he, on multiple occasions, sodomized and violated numerous young children. He even went so far as to "establish" a "charity" to help troubled kids have someone who can "help" them. As it turns out, this was a sham, giving Sandusky yet another sickening avenue to further is twisted fetish of defiling young boys, scarring them for life.
        So where does Joe Paterno fit into the picture? Well what had come to light a few months ago was that in fact, the beloved "Joe Pa" had been notified of the incident in which Sandusky was caught in the locker room with one boy. Joe Pa then proceeding to pass the information to the President of the university as soon as he found out in 2002, in which they had a meeting the next day. But that is where the road ended. That is also where the harsh criticism of Paterno began.

         I realize that it may come off as i'm am favoring the coach, and cutting him some slack, however that is not the case. As someone who himself has worked and has future aspirations to work with troubled youth as a Juvenile Probation officer, it is safe to say that i have a huge heart and soft spot for children-especially the disadvantaged. With that being said, the media has wrongfully taken Joe Paterno and made him the scapegoat of the entire scandal. Yes, he was the head coach. Yes, he was informed of at least one occasion. Yes, if i was a parent of the child i would still be livid. However, the burden should not have rested on his shoulders. Don't get me wrong though. Even as a college student, this angers me beyond measure to know the kind of sadistic pedophiles that are out there. However, Joe Paterno should not have taken the bulk of the blame, but rather a small portion.
            I do not voice my opinion on his side because he had a great track record in the sports world. I come to his defense because of the quality man he was throughout the 85 years of his life. Countless times he put the investment of the students as people above the sports priority. He would bench students who got a b-, suspend players for violation of minor team rules, and donate time alongside his wife in serving the special olympics. In addition, he donated over $4 million dollars to the university and other causes, while his wife was a philanthropist herself. If you read any quote from his players or from him, he cared more about people than holding any record for winning. But he held his ground for over 60 years. That cannot and Should not be wiped away by one gigantic failure. His failure wasn't even the worst of the entire scandal, but the media would make it seem that way.
            What Joe Paterno has done as a human being transcends all he ever did as a coach of any football team. And coming from someone who typically gets disgusted by the preferential treatment of celebrities who commit crime, it is a shame to see such a man of integrity essentially die to the weight of the world on his shoulders. The following two video links discusses what his legacy will be, if any at all:
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7489343
http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7487990/joe-paterno-penn-state-legacy-more-scandal

References:
http://www.gopsusports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/paterno_joe00.html
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7489343
http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7487990/joe-paterno-penn-state-legacy-more-scandal

6 comments:

  1. Well done with this article. I agree with it completely. There are very few things in this world as disgusting as child molestation but Paterno was made to be the scapegoat. The board had actually been attempting to pressure him in to retiring since either 2002 or 2004 I've heard both. They took this incident as an opportunity to further their agenda. Joe Paterno reported his knowledge to several people. To those who say he should have reported it to the authorities, he did. One of the people he reported it to was the Chief of campus police. If that doesn't count as the authorities then I'm confused. It is just sad that a lifetime of good was scarred by at most what was a failure to follow up after reporting. He was a very busy man and I'm sure he figured the authorities would do their job and he had done his. After saying all that I feel the saddest part is the fact that He became the story. The story isn't about Joe but about the victims and what one bad man did.

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    1. I too agree that Joe Pa was targeted. However, that's the way it goes sometimes. When a scandal like this unfolds so quickly and involves a public institution, heads have to roll. Penn State immediately went into damage control. I reserve judgment for Joe Paterno though because it's hard to know the accuracy of the media in reporting the story and it's "facts".

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  2. I hadn't followed this story closely enough to know that Paterno reported the incident to the campus police. Assuming that is true my opinion is a lot different than before. The short version of the story that the media often reported was that he told his boss but neither of them did anything more. If that is true then Paterno deserves blame. If he reported it to his "boss" & they did nothing but meet about it the next day to discuss it then that is horrible. But if he did indeed report it to the campus police, in a reasonable amount of time, then shame on the media for not making that clear! Basically I feel like people shouldn't be able to use their celebrity status to get out of doing the right thing. If anything, Paterno had a heightened moral obligation to protect any the young men he oversaw whether they were his players or just visitors.

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  3. It is just sad this went on for so long. I agree as well the media made Joe Paterno the main target. Instead of focusing on the victims and the sick man that put them through Hell.

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  4. It bothers me that so many people are criticizing Joe Paterno by using hindsight. Could he have done more? Sure, we can always do more in any situation. But if you read through the grand jury report and get the facts of the case, there are so many other people who deserve blame way before Paterno. The fact that Joe Pa followed protocol and reported what was reported to him to his superiors and he still is getting a huge blame for all of this is kind of sad. But like you said, a lot of it falls on the fact that the media has blown his involvement in it or lack there of, way out of proportion. People don't realize when this was reported to him, there was no factual evidence of it actually going on, going off of simple speculation, he did what was required of him and expected his superiors to do their jobs (which they did not). Truly sad that this will totally overshadow his great career of charity work and football greatness.

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