Unhappy Valley

It’s POWER, and the peculiar notion that “we can look the other way because of the rightness of our cause.”

As you may know, Joe Paterno, coach of the Penn State University football team for 46 years, was fired this week, along with the university president, Graham Spanier. Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky…has been indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years… Paterno, who, reportedly, was specifically told of one terrible incident, and mentioned it to university authorities without any follow-up, had been revered on the campus. The football program had been a model of a “clean” program. If you have the stomach for it, check out the grand jury indictment against Sandusky [PDF], which, as the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office noted, “details a disturbing pattern of sexual assaults on young boys, all of whom Sandusky met through his involvement in the charitable organization known as The Second Mile – an organization that Sandusky himself founded.”

It was clear to me early on that Paterno had to go, preferably before this weekend’s home game; he is the face of PSU. It’s peculiar to me, though, how people who don’t follow sports are blaming the influence of sports in society for this debacle. It’s not just sports per se, or religion (see: the sex coverups THERE) or politics. It’s POWER, and the peculiar notion that “we can look the other way because of the rightness of our cause.” As this ESPN article notes: “Joe Paterno and Penn State officials were faced with a critical choice about damning information and chose to protect the program. This is what power has become. This is what power has always been.”

So the following morning, my wife tells me that the students are rioting because Paterno got fired. Surely she’s mistaken; maybe they were rioting as a result of the outrage over the stain to their community. Nope, she was right, although, in the light of day, some students have been wearing pins in support of the victims of the alleged crime.

For a greater understanding of the complexities of this case, I recommend the two articles cited here.