Penn State, JoePa, and a Bunch of Rope

I’m breaking rank to comment on the sorrow that is  occurring at Penn State. Being a native Pennsylvanian and growing up steeped in the tradition of Penn State football, the news coming out of State College has rocked my foundation.  Autumn Saturday afternoons were spent watching Nittany Lion football and Sunday mornings were kicked off by watching the other Paterno analyzing the highlights of the previous day’s game.  Football was more than a pastime, it was a lifestyle.

With that background one would think I believe Paterno walks on water. Quite to the contrary, I’m taking a harder line – I believe JoePa will, and should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice.  It’s fairly obvious the coach used his influence to squelch the investigation. If you’re interested, read the Grand Jury’s indictment , maybe you’ll understand why I think the way I do. The report will turn your stomach.

I’m not going to discredit what the man has done for the university, the sport, and generations of adolescents he ushered into adulthood. What makes this episode so tragic is the one action he didn’t take. Why didn’t he call the police himself?

The image of university and its football program was   more important than the damage inflicted upon Jerry Sandusky’s victims. That’s what makes this so incredibly disturbing. An organization and its figurehead’s image was more sacrosanct than children’s welfare.

I’m not going to recount the step by step progression of events, it has been done before and its all over the internet. That being said, to allow a known pedophile on campus after ‘accepting’ his resignation and allowing him access to the university’s facilities where he went on to commit more egregious offenses is unconscionable. Again, a symptom of the cult of personality –  image is more important than a human being’s welfare.

Read Mark Madden’s article dated April 3, 2011 and you’ll catch on to something: an amazing coverup. If you want to see the effect of the cult-of-personality of Penn State football, read the first three comments, all dated April 2011.  There are further disturbing allegations that Sandusky was using Second Mile to ‘pimp’ out boys for ‘investors.’   Listen to Madden’s radio interview. Hopefully it is unfounded.

The question remains, why now? Why did the entire controversy explode when it did?  JoePa is tied with Alonzo Stagg for 409 victories.  If Penn State beats Nebraska, JoePa stands alone at the top with 410 victories.  Could it be that someone, or some group of people – timed it so the story would come to light at would have been the crowning moment of the coach’s carrier?  Or was it karma?

Whatever it is, my heart aches for the tarnished legacy of a good man who failed to act.  It aches because an organization which I though was beyond the greed of athletics was complicit in criminal activity. But nothing hurts more than scores of young children victimized by a predator,  a predator who was protected by an organization more worried about its image than doing the right thing.

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