Paterno tainted his own legacy forever

By Sarah Morris

Contributing Writer

The word “shame” holds a very heavy weight, but regarding a situation like Joe Paterno’s, it is the only word that comes to mind. Shame for his school, his family and his career is all that people are going to remember. His outstanding contributions to Penn State will forever be remembered as given by a coward. It is honestly a great sadness to see such a prominent figure in so many lives be revealed in such a manner.

Despite all the controversy surrounding Joe and his colleagues, many people are still in his defense. I have such a difficult time understanding empathy for someone who was silent about pedophilia. Remembering someone as a great coach is one thing, but despite whatever students think, he shamed the university. Clearly, his actions (or lack thereof) do not compare to the man, Jerry Sandusky, who committed the atrocity that is child molestation, but there is something to be said for standing aside for the act to continuously occur.

I think people do not realize that children’s lives have changed because of Sandusky’s actions, and that his actions could have been cut short by Paterno’s willingness to go to the authorities. I know that if my child had been one of the children who was abused, I would be horrified that Joe Paterno said nothing to the authorities. Many keep saying things like: “Maybe he could have done more, but he’s not the one who raped the kids.” I think that’s a cop-out for people who just want Penn State to continue its golden football program. Maybe he could have? Yes. He absolutely could have. He could have gone to the authorities, because child molestation isn’t some petty crime, it’s an action that will affect the child for the rest of his or her life.

Yes, it is sad that Paterno’s career ended in such a catastrophic scandal, but in the end, only Paterno had control over that. He could have been a hero for exposing the man right when he heard the rumors. It is certainly a sad moment in sports history to lose someone who has meant so much to hundreds of thousands of students, alumni and Penn State fans, but I believe it is even sadder to think of the children whose lives are forever scarred by Sandusky’s disgusting actions and who could have been helped if Joe Paterno had gone a step further in the exposition of Sandusky’s molestation.

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