I’m a huge college football fan. I live in the Deep South where team allegiances are a part of family’s bloodlines, and where recruiting and schedules and records are discussed 365 days a year. I understand people who love their team. What I don’t get is how so many people are supporting Joe Paterno.
I was horrified at the details about the Penn State scandal when they first broke last weekend. And when the school announced Wednesday night that the university president and its legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, would both be fired, I agreed completely. Then my husband and I watched in stunned silence as Penn State students took to the streets and Paterno’s front lawn protesting about the firing of the man known as JoePa. No matter how many football games he won or how much he helped improve the school’s academics, the man made a serious error of judgment when he did little more than report accusations of child sodomy in 2002.
As I listened to students tip over a media van and beg for their coach to be allowed “one more game,” I wondered what the parents of the victims were feeling. Can you imagine watching people–journalists included–staunchly defending someone who did almost nothing to stop a man from committing such nightmarish acts on your child? Where are the people to protest those protesting?
I loved this New York Times blog piece about the issue. The writer, KJ Dellantonia, shares my feelings of disgust and sadness at those who idolize a football coach so much that they fail to see his grave moral mistake.
News stories affect me differently now that I’m a mom, and I imagine many other parents have had similar experiences. You can’t help but absorb news through a filter of overwhelming love for the little people in your life. The writer not only thought about the parents of the victims; she wondered what the moms and dads of the protesting college kids must be thinking.
“But if I were a college parent, and I could see one of my kids chanting for ‘JoePa,’ I’d get out my cell phone,” Dellantonia writes. “There is a time for recognizing achievements, and there is a time to acknowledge that horrible things have happened, that children have been hurt, and that there are some mistakes that no amount of success can absolve.”
What do you think? If you’re a parent, is there any way you could support the coach or his actions now?