Penn State Scandal: Joe Paterno's Lasting Legacy

Mark BerglundContributor IIIJuly 13, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 22:  A student pays his respects at the statue of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach, outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Paterno, who was 85 years old, died due to complications from lung cancer. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Each day that Joe Paterno's statue remains outside of Beaver Stadium at Penn State University is a disgrace. Every day his name remains on the library is a disgrace. A disgrace for the university, the state and all the victims.

How can anyone argue that a statue of a man who helped cover up years of child abuse should remain? Unless they want to add some alterations to make everyone remember what happened, or, more appropriately, what didn't happen.

A little boy screaming toward Joe, and Paterno with a blindfold or his head looking the other direction would create a lasting image of Paterno's real legacy.

A man of Joe Paterno's character should not be honored; however, he should be remembered.

He built his program on playing by the rules, graduating his players and developing young men into upstanding adults. Preventing child abuse wasn't important enough to him to risk his "clean" program's reputation.

Another thing that I can't understand is how individuals in the Penn State community can still support Paterno.

I can understand the love the community still has for Penn State football—as the players had no role in this—but I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would ever support a person who helped cover up years of child abuse and allowed a child predator to stay out of prison.

In terms of NCAA sanctions, I do believe the school deserves punishment. I think a one-year death penalty would be a good measure. I think the people calling for an end of Penn State football are a little extreme, but one year will help the tragedy be remembered.

This will also, hopefully, ensure other football programs are not greater than the university or children.

One group will argue that by punishing the program, you are punishing people that had no role in the scandal. Isn't that the case in most NCAA scandals? A select few are given benefits and the whole team pays the price.

This is also easily solvable: let the players transfer without a year off. One year is a big deal to these players who only have four years, but one year to a fan isn't too high a price to pay.

Nike did the right thing by removing Paterno's name from a child care center (via ESPN). I don't understand what can possibly be taking Penn State so long.

Leaving Paterno's name and statue on the Penn State campus is similar to South Carolina flying the Confederate flag at its State House. It pays tribute to a terrible age. Paterno may have pushed his athletes to graduate, and the flag may represent Southern heritage, but it pales in comparison to the more defining events.

The events that happened at Penn State do deserve to be remembered, but not honored. Unfortunately, honoring is exactly what Joe Paterno's statue does. It honors a criminal and a coward.