We all know what’s been going on with Penn State University. It’s in the news, it’s in the atmosphere, it’s in cyberspace. I’ve remained silent on this, but here’s how I feel about it.
What Paterno did was right…by the letter of the law. Jim Tressel got the boot from Ohio State for not reporting what was going on with his players. Paterno ran it up the chain of command, and he probably felt that was good enough.
Morally, Paterno was wrong. Dead wrong. Your grad student tells you what he saw, you tell him to call the police. Then, you call the police. Then, you run it up the chain of command. As a civilization, we disagree on many things: politics, sports, food. Mistreatment of a child is not one of them. Be it neglect, abuse, or – in this case – rape, you mess with a child, you have to go. You know it’s bad when hardened prisoners will do everything they can to end you if they find out you hurt a child.
Now, let’s look at the aftermath in a few different ways.
What does this mean for the victims? Well, they haven’t been vindicated yet. There will have to be financial restitution, as well as psychological care for them. Abuse of any form leaves a stigma that can’t be erased. Sexual abuse is even worse. They’re gonna need help for a Very. Long. Time. The important thing to remember in all of this is that they were taken advantage of, and they shouldn’t be cast aside in this.
What does this mean for the athletic program? First things first, Paterno’s gone. If the AD isn’t gone, he should be. The Penn State football program needs a Hollywood-style reboot. They need to let this season ride out, and that be the end of it. Clean house and start over.
What does this mean for Penn State? The students should be ashamed of themselves. They rioted because a football coach got fired. Never mind the reasoning behind it. For all they know, Paterno’s gone, and so is their season. At the moment, they couldn’t care less. It’s my hope that, in the days and weeks to come, they realize what actually went on, and the light switch is flipped in their head.
Also, with the university president fired, the Board of Trustees need to go and find a candidate that will continue the healing process and get them going in the right direction.
Just remember: the season is irrelevant at this point. The most important thing right now is caring for the victims. They are the ones who were hurt the most by this. Not Penn State football.