What’s done is done. Legendary Penn State coach, Joe Paterno, better known as Joe Pa, announced today that he will retire at the end of the season. Sad day for Penn State and a sad day for college sports. Joe Pa is one of the most beloved coaches in college football history, let alone Penn State history. What has been a legendary and tarnish-free career will now end in disgrace.
There was much speculation as to what would come of Joe Pa when the scandal first broke, but after canceling his press conference it was pretty clear that Paterno’s days were numbered. The brass tacks are that Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State Defensive Coordinator, was molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009, a heinous and unforgivable crime. Add to that, Athletic Director, Tim Curley and vice president, Gary Schultz found out about the “situation” and did something that is way too common in the world of sports: they covered it up, and now they will both go down with Sandusky.
The question I’m hearing a lot is “why Joe Pa?” He didn’t molest any young kids. He didn’t even participate in the cover up. Truth be told, Joe Paterno seems like the most genuine, honest, nice guy in the world. Well maybe not so much. Paterno heard a report back in 2002 from Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the time, that Sandusky had raped a 10 year old kid in the Penn State locker room. He could have gone to the cops. He should have gone to the cops. Instead he went to Tim Curley, who is now being prosecuted for covering it up.
Is Joe Pa at fault here? Here’s my take. We’ve all worked at jobs and what they always tell you is that if there is a problem, any problem, the first thing you do is go to your supervisor. It’s protocol and it’s exactly what Joe Pa did. Not good enough. The issue here is much larger than one bad decision. It stems from something that is ingrained into the culture of sports, this idea that your co-workers, teammates, and fellow athletes are your comrades and should be protected by any means necessary. It’s the same reason why nobody came out against Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire while they broke the law and soiled the Baseball records book forever. It’s the same reason why the NBA isn’t going to happen this year. Those things might be trivial, but this concept has now shown its darkest side. A vicious child molester has roamed free for 15 years because nobody wanted to go to the cops.
And BTW. That report that Joe Pa heard happened in 2002. 9 years ago. When it was 2003 and Sandusky was still running around doing god knows what, didn’t it occur to Joe Pa to do something else? Fuck that, what about when it was a week later and Sandusky wasn’t sitting in a cell having Nasty Nate return the favor? That’s as far as I go, because like I said, Paterno seems like the nicest guy in the world and I’m sure he is. That’s the problem though. He genuinely believed he was doing the right thing and what it lead to was potentially countless more innocent kids being harmed. The culture of sports is what’s at fault here…but someone needs to be made an example of. Sorry Joe Pa, but your retirement is for the greater good.