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The Penn State University tragedy influenced by Joe Paterno

Updated on June 25, 2013

Penn State University and Joe Paterno

Penn State University

It’s the sport of all sports- college football. Everything football is king and everyone has football fever. Students attend colleges based on its reputation. Some base the decision to attend a specific college on the football team they love…..I mean the school with the best academic programs. People take pride in the school’s reputation for football and want to be known as a life-long fan by attending the school with the best football program….I mean, the best academic programs…actually, it’s probably a little of both for most of us.

In a world where football is king and football is a large part of our lives, colleges reap in the rewards with astronomical amounts of revenue rolling in from the football program, the support of the fans, and the alumni that help fund the program. This does not include the research facilities or additional revenue from the rest of the college’s accomplishments, but the football program outshines the majority of the accomplishments which the colleges do not mind. After all, many who attend college do not even know much about the academic excellence of the colleges when they attend.

There are many potential football athletes that aspire to be part of a team that is loved, and respected, with the hopes of getting the opportunity to prove themselves to the legendary football coaches that helped make the football program lucrative. Unfortunately, the world of football was the reason that a sexual predator was able to continue preying on innocent children while a college protected their image and funding by ignoring the abuse that continued for years.

Football was more important than the life of an innocent child and money and status guided the choices that were chosen to overlook the crime. A sexual predator was ignored for the love of football. Joe Paterno, a beloved legendary coach, chose football over protecting innocent children, which led to his fall from glory and iconic status. Joe Paterno chose to protect Jerry Sandusky, a sexual predator, for the love of football and for his own personal gains, eventually bringing his legend to an end with the removal of his infamous statue from the Penn State University grounds.

The death of Joe Paterno’s career

In 2002, Jerry Sandusky, an assistant coach for Penn State’s football team, was seen having sexual intercourse with a ten year-old boy in the shower room of the football building by Mike McQueary, an assistant coach. Mike McQueary told Joe Paterno of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual encounter with the ten-year old boy. Joe Paterno said he would discuss this with the proper officials and decide what they should do. What Joe Paterno did was convince the school’s officials to avoid the involvement of law enforcement and deal with the situation internally.

The role that Joe Paterno played in the investigation is not completely known, but he was aware of the criminal acts that Jerry Sandusky was committing. The allegations against Jerry Sandusky were kept private and Jerry Sandusky was able to continue his career at Penn State for an additional ten years. The only reprimands that Jerry Sandusky was given was to stay out of the showers with children and not bring any children to campus.

Joe Paterno was aware of the molestation and assaults on innocent victims, but made the choice to preserve Penn State University's reputation. He also chose his career over reporting the assaults to law enforcement. This choice was the death of Joe Paterno's career and good name.

Football versus the right decision

This shows the impact that football had over the welfare of children. Joe Paterno and the officials of Penn State were more concerned with the future of their football program, not the welfare of the sexually assaulted victims of Jerry Sandusky. The sexual assaults of young boys did not outweigh the possibility of losing the revenue from the football team, so the incident remained closed and football continued.

Joe Paterno had the possibility of losing his status as the coach of Penn State’s football team. Penn State stood the chance of losing their revenue from football and possibly losing their status as a reputable school. There was too much to lose for anyone to admit to a crime. Everything was focused on the financial gains for Penn State and Joe Paterno, not the welfare of the little boys. Every little boy that was assaulted could have been prevented if Joe Paterno called law enforcement. This is why Joe Paterno lost his iconic statue at Penn State.

With the removal of the statue, Joe Paterno’s legendary reign as Penn State’s coach ended in shame with the conviction of Jerry Sandusky. According to decision made by Rodney Erikson, the president of Penn State, Joe Paterno's statue “ has become a source of division and an obstacle to hearing in our university and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location."


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    • jeolmoz2 profile image

      Julio E Olmo Sr 5 years ago from Florida, USA

      This is an unprecedented and controversial scandal that has stir many, many comments...good writing

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Bravo! Well said and well written!