January 24, 2012

Paterno: Remembering a Tainted Sports Legend

Facebook is a space where my friends and I engage in discussions on issues in the news and topics of interest. Below, is an exchange we shared recently.

Z.: The news is that Joe Paterno has died. I will not pretend to hope that he rests in peace. His soul should be forever troubled by the fact that he didn't do everything that he could to protect innocent children from sexual abuse by the assistant coach that worked for him.

Given the fact that Paterno transferred ownership of his financial assets to his wife soon after news broke about the Penn State scandal I wonder if he is, in fact, deceased. It was also after the public learned about Paterno’s involvement in the scandal that he announced he had cancer. It would not be the first time that wealthy individuals faked their death to protect their assets and avoid prosecution.

The new report said that his death is a big loss to the sports world. Clearly, their children were not victimized while in the custody of Penn State coaches.

It's sad that, in some people's minds, sports is more important than people and that the dead deserve more respect than the living. My respect is for the children (now men) who came forward to testify against the Penn State pedophiles and system that abused them.

Kelly: I have mixed feelings...he was a legendary coach and his record in that area speaks for itself. I wish he could have been a stronger man...he will be remembered for his failings rather than his accomplishments.

Z.: Based on the news threads that I've been reading regarding Paterno's death I understand that a lot of people feel as you do, Kelly. Of course, I respect your feelings and right to disagree with me. But I have a question for you; would you have mixed feelings if you were one of the children that were violated or the parent of one of those children?

Kelly: No my feelings would be much different I would imagine. I don't think I would be focused on Paterno though but rather the bastard who abused me.

Z.: I've heard and read about that argument as well. But ethically and legally, Paterno had a duty to do everything in his power protect the children in his care. Penn State recognizes this and that is why he was fired. More correctly, Penn State fired Paterno to minimize their culpability. Nevertheless, Penn State's and Paterno's silence makes them as responsible for the violation of the children as Sandusky.

Mark: I just think he lost the desire to live and he and his family decided to stop any treatment he was going through. He died a broken man with guilt burning in his conscious and that has to be a horrible way to die.

Kelly: Make no mistake, I do not condone his actions or lack thereof...it is just a horrible tragedy and it is a shame that because of his limitations as a person, his lifetime achievements are lost. Having said that, he deserves much worse for burying his head in the sand and not doing anything to protect these kids.

Mark: Z., I do agree that we put too much emphasis into sports and sports figures. I can only imagine how different this country would be if the masses would put the same kind of energy into the ills of this country! Things like this only further my belief that humans will never be capable of policing themselves fairly and a greater intervention is necessary if we're to advance as a global society. I have no reason to believe otherwise. I watch very little sports these days. What it use to fulfill within is now placed with something real and complete and it's just no room for things that are irrelevant!

Kelvin: Z., I agree with a lot of your comments, but I will say that I never wish ill will on any man or his family. I feel bad for him and his family. He seemed to have been an over-all good man. He affected many young people's lives in a very positive way. He gave them many opportunities that they may not otherwise have ever gotten, on and off the field. He has influenced young people to do great things and some of those great things include look out for children and protect them from abuse. Do I think that he did enough to stop that horrible person that he trusted as a friend, HELL NO!! Do I think that he should have been punished for that, HELL YES!! But his life's work should not be diminished because of that one mistake.

Kelly: Kelvin, you stated it much better than I did! Thank you!

Bo: College football is BIG business and ran as such we all know how successful the coach was in his business, but when it came to how he looked the other way when it came to a horrible cover up he flunked horribly...does this take away from his football business prowess, no. But in personal character yes. I don't know if he made peace with his maker or not but I do know that football is what you do and in life we can do many things to make a living...covering up something as horrible as that is who you are. You have to look at who you are every day in the mirror.

Z.: Kelvin, oh no, I don't *wish* ill on Paterno or his family but I do not agree that his life's work is more important than the ruined lives of those children who were victimized by Penn State representatives and the system. Even if it were only one mistake the seriousness of that mistake would extinguish any reverence I would have had for Paterno. But Paterno knew that Sandusky is a repeat child molester, violating numerous children over several years. Paterno looking the other way tells me that his life's work was more important to him than the lives of children and families that trusted him and his program. He nullified his own life's work, IMHO.

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