“WE ARE… PENN STATE!!!” “We are 96,000 strong!!!” … and so shall you ever be, if you choose to be. Whether you agree with the sanctions handed down or not, they were. Based on opinions that I’m still hearing and reading, many people do not grasp why everything came down the way it did. Many certainly do not believe the investigation process was done properly. Looking at it logically, if the school’s own investigation was THAT brutal on itself, there was plenty of reason within the findings of that single investigation, to hand down the punishment it was given. Beyond all of that, everyone needs to fully comprehend the gravity of the crimes committed and accept what happened inside that athletic administration to bring us all to this very point.
You have heard enough to know what generally happened. Sandusky is NOT the sole criminal in this ordeal. Rehashing it all would be beyond redundant. Lets set a stage to explain what needs to happen to move on and rebuild Penn State as a place known for its academics and sports.
The key for all who comprise the Penn State supporting community, and everyone else for that matter, is accepting the reality of the situation over the reputation, nostalgia, brainwashing, idolization and larger-than-life-ness built up and fed to you since the beginning of Joe Paterno’s career. For those of you who already have, I applaud you. We are talking about a man, who overthrew the hierarchy of his superiors, in an organization that had lost sight and control of the chain of command and its distribution of powers, and with all that misplaced power in his hands, when faced with the biggest, black and white, right and wrong, moral or immoral decision of his life… he chose wrong. Reread that last sentence if you have to. Hindsight is 20/20 and its very clear to see now… the decision he made was and is wrong. It enabled wrong doing to continue, almost until the very day he died. Accept that his name is forever tarnished and he brought it upon himself. If you so choose to blindly support him anyway, you support an evil of the worst kind. That kind of self-justification is simply a lie and a manipulation of the truth, that you tell yourself, and allow yourself to believe, contrary to the reality surrounding you.
In a breath, for the University to be known for its academics and sports, it needs to no longer be known at all for the name Joe Paterno, let alone first and foremost. The NCAA has put those wheels in motion. He needs to be erased from the history books. Students should never again consider or have a reason to consider, attending Penn State because that’s the school that Joe Paterno coached for. His memory can no longer reign supreme in people’s minds as a canonized, legendary figure. He can no longer stand tall on a pedestal, bronzed, above everyone’s heads, as a symbol the school can be proud of. Penn State University can no longer be proud of its association with him. Despite how his image was once perceived, Joe Paterno is not a good person. This is a realization he that has been revealed and given to the public to digest. It is based on decisions he, himself, took the liberty of making. If you still believe he was and/or is, ask yourself, “Does a good person knowingly enable a child molester to rape young children, under his watch, and under his roof, for over a decade?” The answer can be nothing else than, no. That single decision overshadows and outweighs every other good decision he ever made. It now defines the name Joe Paterno. Penn State goers and fans, you were lied to… we all were.
For those who think the student-athletes got a raw deal by the NCAA sanctions on PSU’s athletic scholarships and bowl game ineligibility… they didn’t. College is fundamentally meant for education, not athletics. Even Joepa tried to fake like that was the case by making contributions to more than just athletics. When you take the education part out of the equation, you have a minor league football team. When you take the athletics out of the equation, you still have college and higher education. Additionally, if the athletics was in fact what mattered most to the players, they were given the option to be recruited, scout around and change schools without penalty. If winning bowl games was the most important aspect to the players, that door of opportunity was left wide open for them to walk through. For those who stayed, whether out of loyalty to the team, school or their academics, that shows real character. That is something people can rally behind. Which leads me into my last point…
PSU supporters… if you support loyally and wish to continue to do so, by all means, do. Do it right and for the right reasons. Going to a football game for the sake of keeping Joe Paterno’s name alive does nothing but hold back the progress of the athletic organization and the reputation of University as a whole. Going to a game to support the courage of a team, who chose to stick together and play, despite the actions that happened under the previous athletic administration… you’ve got it right. Support your school. Support your classmates. Support your alma mater as an alumni member. Go to the games and support the local establishments that depend on Penn State and its fans. Do it all because of Penn State University as a school. Do it all to move past the Joe Paterno era and create a new chapter for PSU to grow. It was never “WE ARE… JOE PA!!!” It was always “WE ARE… PENN STATE!!!” and “We are 96,000 strong!!!” If that was ever true, now is the time to show it. Leave everything behind that was ever related to Joe Paterno and support PSU because that was a place you went/your parents went/your relatives went/you were raised nearby/ you were raised to love.
Better times are ahead for Penn State. It’s time to move on. It’s time to move forward.