Friday, November 11, 2011

How Did This Happen? How Did We Miss It?

The scandal at Penn State University is all over the news. It is without a doubt horrible. To think that a trussted employee of a major university would do something like this to children is, well there are no words for this. We read about this all the time. How many times do we see news stories all over the country about adults hurting children. What makes this even worse is that a major university is now going to have to figure out how this happened and why nobody did anything. How can this be fixed? Fire the man involved. Fire the Head Coach, Fire the school President.

Is this the answer? Many large companies have a "chain of command" that employees have to go to for problem solving. In this case when Joe Paterno was informed of what was happening, he apparently notified his superiors. But he did not call the police. Apparently no one did. Who was responsible for calling the police? Who knew what was going on and did nothing. Is this what a major university does or doesn't do? Was it right to fire Joe Paterno, the "face" of Penn State football? Did he know this was going on? How long did he know? Was it right to fire him because he did not call the police? Did he see this himself?

For years I have enjoyed college football. I've always been a fan of three major college coaches. I grew up watching Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant coach his teams and do things for the community. He frequently did things for families that the general public never knew. Coach Bryant coached for many years before integration. During this time he knew of good football players who were not white, and he often helped these players get into colleges where they could get an education and a future in the NFL, if that is what they wanted. He was the heart and soul of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

When I moved to Austin, Texas I watched the Texas Longhorns and Coach Darrell Royal. He, too was a football "God" in college football. He built a following no only with his players but the fans of football. Players knew he wanted the best for them both in college and after college. Many of his players went on to sucess in the NFL. In 1972 Texas played Penn State in the Cotton Bowl. That year I read a newspaper article about the two head coaches, Royal and Paterno. The writer wrote that either coach would be a good role model and teacher for any young man going to either school. Both coaches were highly regarded among their peers.

All three schools, Alabama, Texas, and Penn State are steeped in a long history and traditions. Fans live and die with the wins and losses on the football field. The Lions, Tide, and Horns are always fun to watch and hope they become National Champions. Both Bryant and Royal retired as beloved icons of their schools. But not Paterno.

Joe Paterno will not have this. He will not retire a winner. He once said he didn't want to retire because football was his life. There was nothing else for him to do. At his age maybe he was trying to life long enough to be Penn State Head Football Coach for 50 years. That will not happen. Now the university will have to figure out what to do. Their image and trust is gone. Many students rioted when they heard Paterno was fired. Will we ever hear JoePa's side of the story? To allow an assistant do what he did and say nothing is wrong. No question. How could Paterno not know? Why didn't he call the police? If he had to tell his superiors instead of calling police himself, why didn't they? Why? why? why? How many children will come forward and how can we help them?

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