So the axe has fallen on legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Let me be among the first to say – so what? Joe Pa’s status as the shining light of college football and athletics has gone out by his own hand and that’s a shame. But Joe Pa’s legacy in this whole affair, this whole hideous, sordid, grotesque and ultimately expensive affair is my last concern. Quite frankly Joe Paterno at the end of the day is a pitiful, tragic figure who in the end never lived up to his billing.
How do I see this scandal? Glad you asked. I see it like this- Joe Paterno (and others) was given information about hideous acts of depravity being perpetrated against children. After learning of the crimes being committed by a close associate he did the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM by reporting it to the Penn State athletic director. After that he did NOTHING, or little of substance to follow-up on the allegations. Like Pontius Pilot, Joe Pa washed his hands of the whole affair while children continued to suffer at the hands of a monster. That’s despicable.
Keep in mind we aren’t talking about campus parking violations. We are talking about crimes against children, some of which may, as of now remain undiscovered. There are further allegations of even more sordid conduct possibly involving others associated with the Penn State family. We haven’t heard the end of this scandal by any stretch. I expect this to get WORSE before it gets better. The unsolved disappearence of Center County District Attorney Ray Gricar, under mysterious circumstances has resurfaced as he had contact with Sandusky years ago. It is also reported that Sandusky’s behavior was a poorly kept secret. Where will this scandal end?
What is the underlying mentality that allows this conduct to flourish within an organization? That’s an intriguing question. I believe it all comes to values. You either have them or you don’t. It’s as simple as that. It is easy to profess values. It’s another thing altogether to exhibit them. The coaches and staff who knew about Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of children were indifferent to the suffering of the kids as long as the status quo (their beloved football program) was preserved. Much like the attitude of Church leaders who, when confronted by the same kind of allegations against fellow priests did the exact same thing: preserve the status quo by hiding and transferring the perverts thereby allowing them to continue to wreck the lives of innocents (those ironically held in the closest protection of our Lord).
Like the idiot students who rioted for the TV cameras last night their moral compass doesn’t point North. It swings wildly depending on their own level of personal inconvenience. The students care more about a football game and a party weekend then they do about justice for victims of sexual abuse. They take the example of their role models well. What are they teaching at Penn State anyway? Apparently not morality 101.
The (purported) organizational values and culture of Penn State was compromised by people who chose to put their personal situation above what is morally right. They willingly sacrificed the safety and innocence of children, engaged in a coverup of vile behavior and conspired to protect the reputation of their university after the fact. Make no mistake about it, Joe Pa was in the thick of it admitting he should have done more. Yeah Joe ya think? Ironically by doing so they have ensured their own destruction and the tarnishing of the institution they professed to be protecting. This behavior is becoming all to common any more. Scandal after scandal points to the breakdown of morality within our society. From sex scandals to fiscal scandals to justice scandals the hits just keep coming.
The first person who knew about this
abuse CRIME should have not only gone to the university but should have gone immediately to the police. But what should we expect from those we hold up as leaders and role models anymore? After all we have seen decades of this behavior from the Church. For Catholics there is no higher earthly moral authority. If we can’t expect moral guidance from the church, can we really expect moral guidance or certitude from a bunch of football coaches?
I’m thinking yes.