The upheaval that has echoed through Happy Valley extends beyond the football field.
Reports as to what happened in the locker room at Penn State University vary as much as a Chicago weather forecast. The fact remains, that what was once a shining star in college football has been diminished to little more than an untreated wart.
You can feel sorry for Joe Paterno who gave more than 60 years to college football. You can feel sorry for the players he recruited, coached and mentored. You can feel sorry for the parents of the athletes who trusted Paterno and his coaching staff with their sons to guide them through what is supposed to be a chance of a lifetime -- playing major college football.
But do you feel sorry for us -- yes us -- the average parent and college football fan?
Why feel sorry for us? Because once again our worship of public icons as given way to a cold shower of reality. Americans -- whether sports fans, pop music fans, political junkies or observers of our own religion -- find ourselves in denial that something we are seemingly obsessed with goes array.
What does it take the the men and women we put on pedestals are little more than mere mortals. Our obsession with who they are because of what they do instills in us a sense of false reality, which becomes unglued when our idols fall from grace. Joe Paterno could do no wrong. Neither could Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan. How could the media dare to report on anything negative about them?
It just seems to hit us harder when the icons are brought into our lives by TV to the point that we schedule our lives around them -- especially on game days. We seem to lose sight that no matter how great a performance may be on an athletic field or court, or on a stage or theater, our "idols" are little more than people we have elevated to god-like status.
Granted, some trip over their egos. The reality, however, is that like the rest of us, they make judgements related to their profession or life as anyone else does.
So when that judgements is poor, it's shocking. It's amazing. It's tragic.
And in the case of Paterno and the rest of his staff -- it's unfortunate.
But once again, it's reality -- and we're the ones who need to come to grips with it and realize that our shock and possible dismay is brought on by our own false sense of security.
Reality -- what a concept.