Penn State scandal: Football Coach Joe Paterno Made Fatal Error In Judgment

Choices, and the results of those choices, are what make up a life. The good ones, they can bring happiness and fulfillment. The bad ones, well…they not only carry the possibility of diminishing the quality of your life, even destroying it depending on the choice, but they can follow you forever. And if you are one in the limelight, a person of distinction, the media will have a field day, at your expense, with those bad choices, even ones you have yet to be held accountable for.

Such is the case with Penn State football coach, and icon, Joe Paterno. A man considered to be one of college’s best at coaching a game Americans love, someone who brought true meaning to the term “student athlete.” His legacy, now stained forever, by a choice to not follow through on a report indicating the sexual abuse of a minor, as well as other questionable behavior from the perpetrator of that abuse.

The media is having a field day with this one. Multiple stories are coming in daily from every angle imaginable. Sports blogs are lighting up like a Christmas tree portraying their take on the scandal. Major newspapers, online magazines, along with other major media, are taking up the story. Take a look at some of what is out there:

Penn State: The Kingdom and the Power (Philadelphia, Sportsweek)
Note:  I found the link “map explaining the scandal” in this piece to be of particular interest.

Joe Paterno’s Code (Esquire)

Penn State Scandal: Can We Trust Coaches with Our Kids? (Time, Healthland)

Silence in the Locker Room (Time, Ideas)

Good Riddance, Joe Paterno (The Daily Beast)

Ethical lesson of Penn State scandal (CNN, Opinion)

Why Are College Kids Defending Joe Paterno? (New York Times, Style, Motherload)

Can You Trust Your Child’s Coach? (New York Times, Style, Motherload)

Local Football Parents React With Sadness, Concern to Penn State Scandal  (West Bloomfield Patch)

Penn State scandal reminds us that predators use sport as cover to hunt (Chicago Tribune)

And this is only the beginning as news reports, articles, and other information will likely be coming in for weeks and/or months, probably well into 2012 and beyond, based on the magnitude of the scandal and who was involved.

However, as good as many of the current articles listed above are (some superbly written and right on target), they do not do justice to the actual facts in the case against Sandusky, and the idea of how Coach Paterno (especially based on what he stands for), dropped the ball on this by not following up with police. For that you will need to go to the grand jury investigation of what happened.

WARNING: The details of the sexual abuse in that report are exceptionally graphic.
(So disturbing I couldn’t finish reading it.)

As I sit here shaking my head in disbelief, I come away asking some very important questions. Why did Coach Paterno not follow up on his initial report and make sure the police were notified? So many young boys’ lives put at risk, a risk that allowed these young adolescents to be subjected to awful experiences at the hands of a predator. The kind of terrible experiences you wouldn’t wish on your enemies. Things that can lead to a lifetime of difficulties so hard to overcome some may never recover. How could a man who has built so much, who seemed to stand for some very sound ideals, let the “right” thing to do slip through his fingers? I am not sure we will ever truly know the answer to that.

Yes, choices, they certainly do make up a life. Some even define a life; in this case, one fateful choice placed a permanent stain on an otherwise phenomenal coaching career. A sad state of affairs for Coach Paterno, but ever so much sadder for the victims of Sandusky.

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