Sports fans, young and old, too many times put players and coaches on pedestals.
Although some actually come through for us and are great role models for our youth, lately it just seems that more times than not fans have been let down. Maybe it’s time to rethink all the adulation that we heap on these so-called superstars.
Maybe it’s the media coverage. Maybe it’s the money. Maybe it's society. Why is it that every time you open the newspaper or listen to the radio there is another sports figure making headlines for all the wrong reasons?
Through all the issues, and arrests, related to drug possession (Darryl Strawberry), dog fighting (Michael Vick), steroids (McGuire et al), gambling (Pete Rose), gun possession (Plaxico Burress), manslaughter charges (Ray Lewis), and the list goes on, there is nothing that strikes closer to home, and is more heinous in my mind, than the recent crimes surrounding Penn State.
No one knows how far reaching the criminal investigations may go, but what I do know is that morally and philosophically there is something very, very wrong that occurred – for way too long. Pray for those children.
The recent allegations and actions at Penn State show us that not even an icon like Joe Paterno can be spared from making a bad decision, or decisions, that will forever tarnish his name. Worse yet, his and many others' inability to act has adversely impacted the lives of so many children that could have been protected - if he only stepped up like he has taught his players to step up for more than a 60-year coaching career. Maybe it would have stopped in 1994 when it first allegedly may have been known that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile, or maybe in 1998 when there were allegations that were investigated by the DA (who happened to decide not to indict him and then mysteriously disappeared in 2005).
But how did Paterno and Penn State turn away from actual eye witness accounts in both 2000 and 2002 and allow these crimes against innocent children to possibly continue? Was it a planned cover-up? Was it because of the money? Was it to protect his legacy? Was it to protect rich university donors? Hopefully we get answers to these questions and many more.
But if you read the indictment, and it is very graphic, you have to believe there was something more behind this than Paterno and Penn State just being ignorant in not making the police aware of the situation.
He may be the winningest coach in college football history but right now he is a big time loser in the game of life. We may never know what led him to turn a blind eye to these criminal offenses because his lawyers have closed ranks like a Penn State defense of old.
Based on Paterno’s statement, “This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,” I would have to believe that his morals may have finally kicked in, that he now knows that he is on the losing end in much more than a football game. Too little too late!
Pray for the victims.