Penn State honored the late Joe Paterno with a tribute video during the Nittany Lions’ September 17 home game against Temple. The occasion? The 50th anniversary of Paterno’s first season as head coach. Though Penn State won the game, they are definitely the biggest losers of the week.
Just six short years ago, in 2011, Penn State was rocked by a child sex-abuse scandal that resulted in the firing of Joe Paterno and the imprisonment of serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky. Ultimately, an independent investigation into the matter determined that Paterno and other people of influence at Penn State turned a blind eye to the abuse, some of which took place in the university’s football facilities.
How did the decision to go forward with that tribute go down? Here are a few hypotheticals:
Guy #1: Hey, I have a great idea. Let’s do a tribute for Joe Paterno.
Guy #2: Didn’t we fire him over that sex-abuse thing? I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
Guy #1: Dude, that was, like, six years ago. Nobody remembers. And the people who do remember don’t care.
Guy #2: What about the people who might care?
Guy #1: Child sex abuse isn’t a big deal. Football is a big deal.
Guy #2: Great points. Let’s start planning!
Guy #1: We have to plan an event for the September 17 game. Any ideas?
Guy #2: How about a tribute to the veterans?
Guy #1: Naw, man. We do that in November. How about a tribute to Joe Paterno!
Guy #2: Didn’t that independent report determine he failed to protect children from a predator?
Guy #1: Yeah, but it also said he did it to avoid the consequences of bad publicity. Let’s honor his complex legacy by ignoring what he did wrong and generating some good publicity for him.
Guy #2: That makes a lot of sense. Let’s do this!
Ghost of Joe Paterno: Loyal followers! You will honor me with tribute and fanfare during the game against Temple.
Guy #1: Yes, Lord Joe Pa. Of course, master.
Guy #2: Dude! Who are you talking to?
Guy #1: Oh, uninitiate and ye of little wisdom. Open your heart and mind. Accept the wisdom and love of Joe Pa.
Guy #2 [rolling on the ground, receiving a sprinkling of Ben-Gay scented oil ]: I accept your spirit, Joe Pa.
Guy #1: So now that we’re on the same page, what song should we play during the tribute video?
Either Penn State prioritizes football over everything, or the Cult of Joe Paterno has clouded Penn State’s judgment. Either way, turning your back on victims of child sexual abuse should be a disqualifier for a tribute and honor.