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Penn State

A Sad Day for Penn State…

I usually openly share my opinions on politics, religion, music, and art. I don’t get opinionated about sports. However, I love going to a Phillies game with friends and losing my voice because I scream so much. I love spending the afternoon at Wrigley Field drinking beer and watching the Cubs. And, more than anything, I cherish afternoons sitting with my dad and watching Penn State football with the sound turned off so we can have our own commentary. I miss calling my dad and talking to him for 20 minutes only to find out that I called him during a Penn State Football game and he hasn’t heard a word I’ve said.  And, when I lived in Lewistown on Rt 322, I loved sitting on my back patio and watching the swarms of traffic as they inched their way through our little town on the way to a big game.  I didn’t go to Penn State, but it has been a part of my life for the last 19 years.

The day my dad’s obituary was in the paper, the front page was a picture of Joe Paterno and the headline announced that he was fired. I remember thinking dad passed just in time because he would have been so disappointed. Just two months later, Paterno, like my dad, lost his battle with cancer. In the months following his death, I have watched as his character has been torn to shreds. Maybe rightfully so, maybe not.

This morning, shortly after I got to work, I saw the news of the NCAA’s ruling come across my computer screen. I quietly read post after post from friends as they fought over whether this was right or wrong. During my lunch break, I scanned articles looking for a blog that I could agree with or just simply more information. And, though it may not win me friends to say what I am about to say, I feel like I have to say it. I do not agree with their ruling.

Jerry Sandusky is a disgusting horrible man. He committed the most heinous crimes and got away with it. He deserves whatever punishment he gets and he deserves to suffer for what he has done. Joe Paterno may or may not have known all the details of what happened. I feel like the evidence is somewhat cloudy and a more thorough investigation is necessary. He may very well be guilty of a major cover up, but I am not yet totally convinced. In a very convincing letter to the trustees of Penn State, Graham Spanier states,

“It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth, including service on the boards of four such organizations, two as chair of the board, would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children. As I have stated in the clearest possible terms, at no time during my presidency did anyone ever report to me that Jerry Sandusky was observed abusing a child or youth or engaged in a sexual act with a child or youth.”

As I read this letter, I couldn’t help but feel like there needs to be a much more comprehensive investigation about the cover-up than the Freeh report. There is more to this whole story than the media witch hunt it has become. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are many people involved in this whole scandal and we need to find out the truth and there needs to be a reworking of the whole Penn State football system. Taking the statue down is probably a good move at this point. Fining the University for 60 million and giving that money to organizations who will help abuse victims is also reasonable and just. Allowing players to go to a different school is fair. They should be able to decide if they want to be part of the rebuilding of a broken program or not.

My problem is this: taking away the victories of 111 games is not making sense to me. The players won those games; their sweat soaked the field. The Blue Band practiced and played their hearts out and the cheerleaders led the thousands of fans as their cheers roared through Happy Valley and living rooms across the country. Those games, those victories don’t belong to the coaches and administration of Penn State. They belong to the players, the fans and the band. They don’t deserve to be punished for the wrongs committed by a group of men who put football before the lives of children. So before Bowden pats his own back and the NCAA walks away thinking they can erase 14 years of games, I just want to say that you can wipe the winnings off the books, but you can’t change history.  You can’t take away the hours I spent screaming at the TV with my dad and my memory of the smile on his face when Penn State scored the winning touch down. And you can’t change the fact that in 111 games, the players on the Penn State Football team were superior to the team they opposed.

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