I woke up this morning to my children talking and laughing and my husband getting ready for work. I came to join them in the kitchen as I always do and my husband delivered the news that Joe Paterno, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions football program had been fired. My gut reaction was "good for them", but my mind kept going.
If you are unfamiliar with this story, here's a brief background. This is sensitive subject matter.
Earlier this week it broke that former defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions, Jerry Sandusky, had been charged with sexually assaulting eight boys over a fifteen year period, including on the grounds of the Penn State program, at least twice. One such incident was witnessed by a graduate assistant coach in 2002 who told Joe Paterno, the head coach. Paterno, in turn, directed this information to the athletic director, which made it's way to a school vice president who looked over campus police. There was at least one incident prior to this in 1998, in which Sandusky evidently promised not to do it again. This time, Sandusky's keys to the locker room were taken away.
WHAT?!!!!!!!! and let's just say that my language on this is not family friendly.
How can adults, especially in positions of power, see this and know what's going on and not say a word? How do they live with themselves? And Joe?? He has the audacity to be upset that he's being fired? Oh yes, he 'graciously' said that he would resign at the end of the season. How benevolent of him. Screw that! I'm a football fan (Go Buckeyes!) and I love to see our Big 10 brothers do well, but holy freaking cow, who the hell does this?
Part of me hates to see a man, who so many admire, go down like this, but my heart does not ache for the man - make no mistake! My heart hurts for all of the trust and admiration that has been shattered. People looked to him for standards of what it means to be moral, wholesome and someone to aspire to be. Paterno has long been considered a father figure of sorts in this program, but no more. People are angry, some at him, some defending him. I think that's nuts to defend him, but I can understand the emotional struggle that it is to accept the gravity of what has happened, but these people are only a small piece of this.
The heart of the matter is the boys - all of those lives changed forever. My heart just breaks for these boys and now men who were violated not just physically, but emotionally and in any other possible way. Sandusky worked with children and held a position of great importance with a state football team that is loved and admired by so many. To abuse that is inexcusable and unconscionable. These boys were let down and dismissed every step of the way. Thankfully this has now come into the light and something is finally being done - though only a small token this late in the game.
Thank you for being with me here and allowing me to share this heaviness on my heart. It's a deviation from what I typically write about, but this case shows the importance of standing up and doing the right thing. It's not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do, no matter the magnitude of the injustice.
I have this place to share my thoughts and feelings, I invite you to share yours as well.
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