Today being Saturday, the day semi-traditionally reserved for sport commentary, I feel obligated to discuss the downfall of Joe Paterno, the longtime football coach at Penn State.
What's disheartening in this whole affair--aside from Sandusky's obviously repugnant actions--has been the reaction of the Penn State student body to Paterno's dismissal. A large contingent went to the coach's home on the night of his dismissal to offer the coach their support in his time of need--which might be OK--and to protest the university's action--which is not.
Let me amend that: Protesting is OK. People can protest anything they want. But protesting Paterno's dismissal seems pointless at best and offensive at worst. What are these people protesting? The firing of a man who preaches discipline and education and moral standards but who saw fit not to report a credible case of child molestation--rape, in fact--to the police. Do these people feel Paterno was unjustly fired? Would they have the courage to say this to the parents of the children raped by Sandusky? To the children themselves?
Paterno's unique standing in both the local Pennsylvania community and the wider world of college football further condemn him. Many players in this drama may have feared for their careers or reputations if they had made accusations against Sandusky, a respected member of the Penn State "family"; Paterno can claim no such fears. The man is a legend. He would have faced no personal consequences for making his concerns known and for following up on the investigation. So why didn't he? Could he just not be bothered?
Given the information that has come out so far, I suspect that Paterno will not face criminal charges. He probably fulfilled his legal obligations by reporting the matter. But he has lost whatever moral standing he may have held. More importantly, though, the students at Penn State and around the world who lament the "injustice" done to JoePa should save their sympathy for the victims of these crimes and accept--if not applaud--the action that the university took.