Joe Paterno at a Penn State press conference

Joe Paterno and the Penn State Scandal: Do Any Parents Still Support JoePa?

Joe Paterno at a Penn State press conference

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was fired late Wednesday amid a school scandal. (Photo credit: Melanie DiCarlo,

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?

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Shannon McRae

About Shannon McRae

Shannon McRae is a work-at-home mom of three young children whose days are spent wiping mouths, playing Candyland, planning dinners and stealing time in between at the computer for her freelance writing. She's a stickler for healthy eating, with a slight exception for Oreos. She lives in Alabama with her precious children, loving husband and 13-year-old Australian Shepherd named Ricky Martin.

  • Angie

    Well written. I could not agree more. My heart breaks for the unknown number of boys that are permanently scarred and for the thousands of people that are unable to feel the same way for them because of their allegiance to a football team.

  • Joepaisagoodman

    You’re an idiot. What did you want him to do? Take justice into his own hands? He’s a football coach not a policeman. He reported the “heresay” from the grad student promptly to his boss and the VP. The bottom line is he had to let the University sort it out and try to get to the truth. They botched it just as the local police botched it years before and everyone else botched it who could have put 2 and 2 together over the years.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment Angie. It’s a mess for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry you don’t agree–it’s a sad situation all around.

  • Joepaisagoodman

    Yes, its sad that Paterno can devote decades to helping college kids and have it destroyed by the media for something he didn’t see, take part in, encourage, cover up and wasn’t related to any part of his program in any way. Get the facts, actually READ the grand jury report instead of just listening to what passes for news “reporting” these days. People have got to stop looking to assign blame to everyone else and instead focus on who was actually responsible.

  • Doffing Dardu

    Did Joe Paterno give Penn State a great name over the years, yes. Was he a great mentor and father figure to many, yes. However, hypothetically, if I heard from a friend or colleague of mine that my assistant coach was molesting a child I would take the matter into my own hands. I would have had McQueary come over to my house, call the police immediately and file a police report. His quote was, ” I didn’t feel adequate to handle the situation.” Bull***t, anyone who is a morally sound adult is adequate to handle that situation. You call the police, file the report, and get the man who committed the crime arrested. Sandusky “retired” in 1998 at which point he was only 55. This is relatively young for a coach to retire, and he was supposed to succeed Paterno. Also Paterno was friends with Sandusky and he knew he lived next to an elementary school and dealt with kids all the time. By Paterno reporting it to anyone but the police was his first mistake, by not following up and saying, “Hey remember when I reported to you guys that my ex assistant coach was seen molesting a kid? Did anything come of that, did you investigate, did you question McQueary?” There was a whole long line of mistakes made starting with Sandusky. McQueary should have helped the kid first of all then called the cops directly. However, he called his superior Paterno, who in turn did the same thing. He WAS the University, it was his obligation to call the cops. Also, if anyone who supports this guy let me ask you this, if you catch wind that a crime is being committed do you call your boss or parents to ask them what to do? No you call the cops and get it handled, it’s called being an adult and doing the right thing.