Penn State Scandal: Stop Worrying About Paterno, Worry About Victims Instead

Ed GrayContributor INovember 14, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  A quote by Joe Paterno is seen above messages left by Penn State fans outside Beaver Stadium after the Penn State vs. Nebraska NCAA football game in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.  Penn State lost their final home game 17-14 to Nebraska. Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno was fired amid allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse.   (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Can someone please explain to me how overlooking the alleged repeated rape and molestation of prepubescent boys in your team's locker room is not a fireable offense?  

Does winning 400-some football games excuse you from the most basic responsibilities of living in a mostly civilized society?  

No, of course Joe Paterno is not responsible for the alleged actions of Jerry Sandusky, but he is responsible to stop it.  How many additional victims may have fell prey to Sandusky because Paterno wanted to avoid the ugly situation?  

Sorry Penn State fans, Paterno may be a great football coach, he may not be a horrible person, but he deserved to get fired. Period.  

These boys will have to live with the rest of their lives with what was done to them.  They—not Paterno—deserve your sympathy. He has been paid millions of dollars to coach football and will be able call up any football organization in a month to have a job again.

I know this is a topic that makes many people uncomfortable, but I think it's important to look at just what some people are actually comparing to Ohio State's "pay-for-play" scandal.  

Because Paterno (and from what I understand, several of his staff members) did nothing to stop Sandusky (the details are still emerging and murky, and I believe all people, including Sandusky, deserve their day in court before we all presume him to be guilty), several boys will now be more likely to have to live with anxiety, low self-esteem, flashbacks, depression, multiple personality disorders, passivity, agression, paranoia, isolation, emotional numbing, trouble sleeping and an anxious need to please others. 

And that is somehow the same as college athletes selling memorabilia?  Are there people out there who actually think this? If so, could you please kindly let me know why in the comments?

Are our society's priorities so mixed up that winning football games is somehow more important than stopping child sex abuse (and in theory, there's no reason PSU couldn't do both if Paterno had just done something about it)?  

And yet there are hundreds of PSU students rallying in support of their beloved football coach, even garnering praise for their display of loyalty.  But I just have one question for these supporters—do you honestly believed that anyone who overlooked sexual abuse of this nature deserves to keep their job?

I'd bet anything that even Paterno, deep down, knows he got exactly what he deserved.