Last night, students at Penn State University staged a rally on the front lawn of Joe Paterno’s home.  They held signs and chanted for the coach. They sang stadium cheers. They showed their support for the man whose name is synonymous with their school and whose name appears on the Library.  The man who has coached their football team for 46 years under the guise of doing things the right way. The Penn State way. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. He is the most powerful man on that campus.

Now imagine being the one of the boys that Jerry Sandusky abused. They are now young men. Imagine them turning on their televisions and seeing the “pep rally” at JoePa’s last night.  Seeing those students cheering and backing a man that could have stopped what was going on, BEFORE Sandusky got to you. It was bad enough to relive the events on television before that, but seeing support for the one person who could have put a stop to everything, probably makes any kind of therapy and resolution you had come to the past few years, worthless. It brought all the pain that you thought you had buried, back into the front of your mind, in your gut and into your dreams at night.

I guess I can kinda of excuse the immature, ill advised students who thought that they were supporting the Old Man at his house last night. They’re not parents ( they’ll “get it” when they look into the faces of their own child and wonder what they’d do if someone ever touched them that way ), and they’ve obviously never been inappropriately touched by someone in their lifetimes to be able to ignore what is in front of their faces. But I can’t imagine what it was like for Sandusky’s victims, seeing their pain reduced to a pep rally and a rowdy chorus of Seven Nations Army.

Now, these students and supporters seem to be the minority. Anyone who does not reside in the geographical location of State College, Pennsylvania seem to be overwhelmingly repulsed by the events which unfolded and at least in the court of Public Opinion, Joe Paterno has some big time explaining to do. Sure, he LEGALLY did what he was supposed to do ( see Pocket Doppler Kelly’s latest blog entry for explanation ), but did he do the morally correct thing by not going to the authorities. Did he protect his program, his legacy and his “guy” at the expense of protecting innocent children?  For me, personally, his latest statement that he will be retiring at the end of the season is not enough, and believe me, my eyes rolled into the back of my head at the sheer hubris and gall of the condescending statement that the Board of Trustees should “not waste a single minute discussing my status,” as if there is any other business that the BOT would discuss at their emergency meeting, now that they are “free” from having to discuss JoePa’s employment status.  He also stated that in hindsight, he “wished he had done more.” Well, to me, that is an admission that he knew, and he basically did NOTHING. Oh, sure. He told his boss, and then shut his mouth. What happened to calling the police? What about the graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, who witnessed a 10 year old boy being raped by a 60 year old man and went to his father and then to Paterno, and then…crickets. But, he did manage to climb the ladder of the Penn State coaching staff, now serving as their recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. Was it a reward for his loyalty to the program, i.e. his silence?

And what about the selfishness of Paterno, wanting to hang on and stay until the end of the season. Does anyone really think he is “doing it for his kids?” Hell to the NO. This is all about Joe and his coaching legacy. How is subjecting 85-100 student athletes who had nothing to do with this situation, who came to Penn State to play football, to a media circus on Saturday if Joe steps on that field? Let’s not forget the 100 student athletes and coaches on the sidelines across the field. Do you think Nebraska wants to be a part of this shit show? There is a Big Ten divisional title at stake.  Having Joe Paterno watch the game from his living room, returns the focus to the football game at hand and the players on the field.  Oh, and I can’t wait for the greeting the man will get in Columbus and Madison when he shows up for road games in the next few weeks. Two of the loudest, drunkest, most verbally obnoxious fanbases in the Big Ten? Now that I think of it, I might enjoy that.

I actually saw this argument made in support of Paterno:  If it was your kid would you have waited all these years? This comes out at the end of the year because the timing was perfect. They didn’t know how to get rid of him so they waited until they had a great reason. Point all the fingers you want at him but as a parent and grandfather I’d go after the guy that did it and I would have done it a long time ago.

Really. After I shook the cobwebs from between my ears and wondered how an adult, let alone a parent or grandparent, could possibly think this way, I answered him.

Kids “wait all these years” out of shame, embarrassment and fear.  Most children think that adults won’t believe them if they come forward. And they’re ASHAMED. Ashamed for what a person of power, an ADULT, they’ve been taught to RESPECT, did to them. 
Something happened to me when I was 7 years old that I NEVER spoke of, especially to my mother, because she knew the adult in question and I always thought she’d never believe me. And I was embarrassed and confused and ashamed. I was SEVEN.  My mother passed away 10 years ago and she never knew what that relative she trusted did to her daughter. To this day, I still wonder if she would have even believed me. 
Maybe that is why this story has bothered me so much. Maybe that’s why my stomach was upset this morning to the point that I called in sick to work. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the Grand Jury report in all its disturbing, graphic, disgusting glory. Perhaps this is a reason why I tend to suffer from a lack of self-confidence, struggle in relationships, and always feels guilty and insecure.
Pocket Doppler  Kelly penned an observation of the situation from the point of view of a trained child abuse specialist the day after the story went completely viral ( her original post on the subject. The blog linked above is dated today ).  I can’t add anything to the righteousness of that article. Please read it if you have the time.
Personally, I’m trying to think of something else, like if picking up Reggie Bush is a smart move for my fantasy football team. I’m tied for first ( thank you, QB1 ) and my wide receivers kick major ass, but my running backs are sorry as hell.
As Kelly also said in her post on this sensitive subject:  The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone and in no way reflect the opinions of my unnamed employer…or necessarily reflect the opinions of other bloggers here at Pocket Doppler. 

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  • Anita

    This blog was posted at 6:11 PM. At 10:15, the Board of Trustees at Penn State University held a press conference and announced that Joe Paterno was fired as head coach of its football program.

    • BigSnakeMan

      Clearly, Paterno’s firing was a PR move with an eye toward limiting the potential financial liability for the university. But those misguided souls protesting JoPa’s dismissal should think about something beyond football and consider how Sandusky and McQueary were allowed to hang around the program for 9 years after the incident that brought this to light.

      It’s certainly no surprise to anyone who follows college football that there has long been a disconnect between Paterno and the day to day operations of the football program. But he needs to be held accountable nonetheless and this episode highlights why that situation is not acceptable.

  • Colleen

    Great writing, Anita. I was horrified enough at the stupidity of those students defending Paterno last night. I was even more horrified to hear them on NPR, which delivered a non-sensationalistic version of last night’s events. How can they defend someone who did not do everything he could to make sure this stopped?

    And, you are very brave. I am proud to “know” you.

  • Anita

    Gracias, and same to you, Colleen! :)

    There is a scene from the movie A Few Good Men which applies to this situation:

    Downey: “What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong.”

    Dawson: “Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.”

    Paterno, McQuery, Spanier. They all should have gone to the police as soon as they knew what was going on. They all should have fought for those kids, who couldn’t fight for themselves.