So yesterday’s post is what most of my friends would call ‘a hot mess’. And I’m sure it got some reactions from pretty much anybody that read it. Today, I’m a bit more focused, less emotional, and more informed. So let me try this again with a bit more clarity.
First, yesterday was the most emotional I think I’ve been while writing a blog post and I think that came through in the writing, but in case that it didn’t, let me put this here. That blog post was a purely emotional response to something that I will explain a bit later in this one. And if you can read that post and not sense that it is not a logical thought out, reasoned essay, then you have been spending too much time on the internet and you need a break to readjust your compass.
Second, Abuse is wrong. Any form of abuse. Any form. No, even that one. It is wrong. And the appropriate consequences should be taken. Sandusky has been arrested. The President and Athletic Director and Coach Paterno have been fired. And there is a grand jury investigation, and i’m sure many other investigations as well, going on to find out even more of the truth than what is being reported. Only once that is done cane the final appropriate actions be taken. Should JoePa have not only reported what he was told, but also have followed it up? Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that in his position as head coach for a team of young men, he should have not only reported it, but followed up and pursued the charges until something was done. He didn’t, and so he has been fired.
And he should have been. That was the correct decision. But, it’s still not a happy one.
Please, spare me your moral outrage for just a bit and go with me, ok?
Coach paterno has been the coach at Penn State Football for something like 60 years. He has helped thousands of young men stay in school, complete their education, and move on to different and better lives, whether that was academic or professional sports. He has, overall, been a force of good and positive change in the lives of thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands. For those of us that grew up watching Penn State Football, there was no difference between the team and the man, between the Lions and the Coach. In a world of sports where soon everything became about the promotion, the money, the getting to the pros and how big and fast and strong you were, in some ways, Coach Paterno was still one of the ‘good guys’, the ones that encouraged going to classes and doing things the old way.
Yesterday, and the days leading up to that, everything along those lines came crashing down. This man that we had known all of our lives as a ‘good guy’ came crashing off the pedestal. A friend of mine and I were discussing it and we came to this somewhat decent comparison. It was like finding out that Batman liked killing, that cheetara was sleeping with Mumra, and that Splinter suddenly developed a taste for Turtle Soup. And that the Green Ranger was actually a putty. There was one last vestige of brief nostalgic childhood innocence left in a sport that has changed even since I was a child. And this week that was destroyed before my eyes.
So yes, I was emotional yesterday. I was a five year old that just got told about Santa and the easter bunny and the tooth fairy. I was that seven year old waiting backstage at a WWF event and seeing the Ultimate Warrior without his facepaint for the first time, or learning that the Undertaker really did have pupils. It was a crushing blow to one last moment of innocence.
But, since this is the internet and the moral compass online is often set to Black or White, there are few areas of gray. But I am going to stay in one.
I am sad to see the legacy of years of coaching and good tainted, tarnished and ruined by this. I am sad to see the man that so many of us have grown up loving get tarred and feathered. But I am outraged that the abuse has happened, did happen, and that so many victims had to live through it. I am outraged that nothing more was done to protect children that were in the charge of not only the coaching staff, but also the university as a whole.
It is possible to be both. Emotional reactions do not necessarily have to contradict logical reactions. And most people are capable of feeling more than one thing at a time.
I got a comment on my blog yesterday, that I did not post up. The commenter did not seem to be incredulous about most of anything that I wrote. Of course I was accused of being a man, of having blinders on, and of being clueless. Which, only one of those things was untrue yesterday. I am not now, nor have I ever been a man.
But what the poster seemed the most incredulous about was my insistence on Beat Nebraska. And reading back over the post, I think I can see why. I was a bit rambling.
But let me try and clear things up. Even without Coach paterno on the field, there is one thing that this football teams needs to do. And that is on Saturday, they need to Beat Nebraska. With or without Coach Paterno, they are still a football team. They still have a game on Saturday, and they have a record to uphold and protect. It was going to be inevitable that Coach Paterno not be on the sidelines one day, and even then the team has but one goal. Win the game.
Now, they have even more of a reason to do so. Football is life in Happy Valley, and now for the students, for the community, life goes on as it should, while the investigation goes on as it should. And there is still going to be a football game on saturday.
But life in Happy Valley will never be the same. Saturday mornings will never be the same, or as almost innocent as they were. And for that, for that I am sad.