Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Pope Joe Pa: Buh-Bye
There are lots of things I could blog about, but tonight I am shaking my head in amazement and horror at the destruction of a giant of American college football.
Joe Paterno, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years, has been fired in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal involving his former defensive co-ordinator. The story is tragic. Jerry Sandusky joined the Penn State coaching staff in 1969, and eight years later, begins a program called Second Mile in 1977. He sets up group foster homes for troubled boys who either have no family or come from dysfunctional backgrounds. And it is from this setting that Sandusky meets his victims... as many as nine boys... who he would take to the showers at the Penn State football stadium and abuse them. According to the timeline in the grand jury indictment, numerous people, sometimes the parents of the boys and sometimes university employees, saw or learned of the abuse and reported it.
But nothing happened.
And the worst was the graduate assistant who saw Sandusky having sex with a 10 year-old in the showers. The grad assistant didn't intervene to save the boy. Instead he told his father, and the next day went to Head Coach Joe Paterno and told him. Sandusky wasn't even on the official coaching staff, but was some kind of "coach emeritus" with the team.
Did Paterno call the cops? No, he called the athletic director. Did the athletic director call the cops? No, instead everyone promises to "look into it." Sandusky has his keys taken away. But not his freedom.
This was in 2002 when there were a number of headlines about the Roman Catholic Church's own issues with child sex abuse. And Paterno is Catholic. His response to the news that something was rotten in the showers of his vaunted football progam is too reminiscent of how his Holy See also preferred to look the other way as it became apparent that the church would shuffle pedophiles from one parish to another.
Paterno had announced earlier today that he would retire at the end of this, his 46th season. The 84 year-old coach probably still believed that his legacy could still be salvaged. Certainly, everyone would remember his "Great Experiment" of making championship-worthy football go hand-in-hand with great academics. He probably wanted to add another win to his record of 409, more than any other coach in college football.
Instead, the Board of Trustees have told Joe Pa: Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Good-Bye. Same with the University President.
Like I said, it's all tragic and sad. Especially for Victims numbers 1-9.
Most college sports teams are shaken up by financial misdeeds by boosters, or athletes breaking the law, or college tutors cheating on behalf of the players to keep the athlete eligible to play. But raping young boys in the team shower? Sorry, Joe Pa. If you knew and did nothing, you do not deserve to leave on your terms.