November 11, 2011

Thoughts on Penn State

This Penn State football molestation story has quickly become quite possibly the biggest sports story of all time, leading to the end of the tenure of the seemingly unendable tenure of coach Joe Paterno.

I didn't go to Penn State, and after this week's events, I'm very, very proud of that fact. I've long complained about my alma mater, Brandeis, not having a football team, but if no football means no pattern of sexual abuse, then no football doesn't sound so bad. Brandeis had its worst PR crisis of all time a couple of years ago, and that was because they were talking about selling off the art collection...

Still, the reaction from some Penn State partisans has been downright embarrassing, especially the heckling-filled press conference Wednesday night and the subsequent riots.

I understand the love that people have for Joe Paterno, and that he's generally been a good guy for the past few decades. This is no Bob Knight situation at Indiana, where the entire student and alumni bodies coalesced around a violent sociopath who had been a bad guy for decades and was fired due to his own behavior. But regardless, there's absolutely no defense for what Paterno did, and the board was right to fire him. And if you think the worst tragedy of this matter is that Paterno was fired over the phone, then there's something wrong with you.

Perhaps the most embarrassing apology for the university was this Huffington Post piece, which emphasized that Paterno was the fall guy for other people's misdeeds. "Tell me, when was the last time you heard Jerry Sandusky's name?," the author asked. The last time I heard it was on three different radio shows that morning, about two minutes before I read the article.

I had another fight on Twitter with someone who pointed at that morning's sports page, noting that Paterno's name was all over it and Sandusky's was nowhere, and therefore Sandusky was getting a pass. That, I said, was because Paterno had resigned the day before and there'd been no Sandusky-specific news that day. Newspapers are notoriously biased towards stuff that happened yesterday.

I don't pay a huge amount of college football. But for the rest of the year, I'll be rooting very strongly for everyone who plays Penn State.

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 11, 2011 04:49 PM
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