It's no secret how much I LOVE Penn State. To say that I am upset about the recent headlines is an understatement. I really can't speak calmly about it. My blood pressure rises each time I look at facebook, watch ESPN, or read the news online. I'm heartbroken. And for once I'm not exaggerating. I'm going to attempt to convey my thoughts in a fair and organized matter, but I really still can't even make sense of the things the media is saying so proceed with caution.
Let me begin by saying that in no way am I denying or defending Mr. Sandusky's alleged actions. If he is found guilty (which I do believe he will be and should be) he should be punished for what he did. That being said, read my first sentence again...Mr. Sandusky's actions being the key phrase. The wrong doings here and the illegal actions are only his. Responsibility for his action's does not lie with Penn State football, Joe Paterno, or Penn State University. This is where I become upset. How many websites, headlines, newspaper articles, and television programs are showing Jerry Sandusky's picture? Slim to none. Joe Paterno has become the fall boy for all of this and I think it's beyond unfair. It has been noted that the incident was reported the the authorities and the District Attorney decided not to prosecute.
Let me use the analogy/reasoning I have been using with my colleagues and friends this week. I'm a school counselor for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. If teachers, or any school employee, suspect a student is being abused they are to report it to me and I am to report it to the appropriate people. Technically, I am also ethically responsible to not divulge whether social services was called or not. How does that teacher know I reported it or not? Would it be fair if I chose to neglect my responsibilities to blame the teacher who did their part? And from personal experience, alerting the appropriate people does not always mean action is taken, an investigation is done, or that the right verdict is found.
To me it seems that Joe followed the law. Admittedly, I am also a very proud Joe Paterno loyalist. I keep a figurine of him in my office for inspiration because if he is almost 85 years old and can wake up everyday and go to work then I can too. Joe Paterno started at Penn State in 1950. 1950. None of these media people could walk (or were born) when he walked onto that field for the first time. The things that Joe Paterno has done for not only Penn State football, but college football in general, Penn State University, and the town of State College are so many that most people can only hope to be half as gracious as him in their lifetime. If there is one Penn State employee I could think to trust it would be Joe Paterno. Isn't it Joe Paterno that is credited with an outstanding dedication to not only football, but the character and education of his players? A mentality that says education first and football second? Yes, it sure is. That's the Penn State way. It sickens me to see so many alumni turn their backs and say ugly things about a place they use to call home and a person I'm sure they loved if not Friday, then at some point in the past.
The New York Times has reported that University officials are planning Paterno's exit as I type this. This has got to be the most heartwrenching news I have read today. It may seem dramatic, but I really am having a hard time bearing the thought of this. Does the man who followed the law, spent 61 seasons on the field at Beaver Stadium, spent 61 years improving the lives of young men, the town of state college, and the University Park campus deserve to be outed because of someone else's poor choices? In my opinion he does not.
Penn State is an institution deeply rooted in tradition, loyalty, and pride. I say this is a contributor to the media frenzy, the nation wide disbelief that something like this could happen in a place called Happy Valley. But that's just it. Jerry Sandusky and his actions are not who, or what, we are talking about when we say, "WE ARE." We are so much more. We are not only football. We are Penn State. And Penn State is people, organizations, a community, so much that I can't put into words. I am Penn State. I have never been more proud to be a Penn Stater than I am today, or will be tomorrow. For the Glory. FOREVER.