I know I’ve written about this particular subject before, namely, WHY should athletes be held as “role models” let alone paragons of virtue? The vast majority of professional athletes have been spoiled, pampered persons whose relation to others has been that of royalty to peasants. WHY? Because they can run or jump or hit/catch/throw a BALL? Why should these skills be not only admired, but those who do such things almost worshipped?
I was thinking this again because of all the news about Joe Paterno, the Sandusky child raping scandal, the students rioting against Paterno’s dismissal. Two weeks ago, I had never even heard of Joe Paterno. Now, he is the premier example of the old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The story is sordid, but simple. Joe Paterno, a man who had immense power over a city and a university and many state politicians because he was a successful football coach and was literally worshipped for this, allowed a pederast to remain with the University, the team and a “charity” supposed to be helping young boys. Let me say the most astounding part – he was literally the most powerful man at a University and the most powerful person for a 300 mile radius because of a GAME. People gave money to the University, not because of its teachers, research or academics, but because of a stupid GAME.
I’m a Texan, I know that people like football games. I know that UT and A&M have popular football programs. But the coaches do not wield power like a despot over the entire University, the town and a good deal of the legislature (not to say real too particular good things about the Lege, but at least they don’t do obeisance to some football coach.)
Paterno – the word comes from the latin word pater, meaning father. He spoke about the athletes, unpaid moneymakers for the University – clearing at least $50 MILL/year in profit, making exactly nothing, as his “kids.” He boasted of his pristeen morals, of fomenting those self-same morals in his clubhouse and locker room.
But what should a good father, a man of unquestioned high morals (and WHY are those morals unquestioned, I ask?) do when he discovers that one of his “kids” is a creature of evil? And make no mistake about it, adult men who anally rape little boys are just flat out evil. There is no other appropriate word. Evil. Do you excuse him because he is your “kid”? Do you think that you should allow him to continue to rape, unmolested (hahahaha) and cover up any tales of his crime? Is it because he is yours and therefore his crime would reflect on you, or is it because you think that your family and the family business, the game of football, is far more important than any 10 year old boy’s rectum.
How could anyone, ANYONE, especially a man with boys of his own, so easily dismiss a crime like this? To protect a GAME?
You all know the story. In 2001, an enormous male, age 20 something, caught a smaller, much older man raping a child in the locker room. The discoverer was an ex-football player. The rapist, his former coach and one of his present bosses. The discoverer did absolutely NOTHING to stop the rape or help the child, just called his own daddy, who told him to keep his mouth shut and tell Paterno in the morning. He did. And what happened with the rapist? Not a thing. Again.
Oh yes, it had happened before.
Paterno, in 1998, was the most powerful man at the University, not just the most highly paid. He obeyed the letter of the law and reported the matter to his immediate “superior.” And went on as if nothing had happened. The rapist was forced to “resign” with a nice severance package, but essentially continued on as if nothing had happened. More and more people witnessed the rapist raping. Paterno heard no evil, saw no evil and did evil by saying nothing.
Did he think his legacy would be tarnished by exposing (hahaha) the monster in lion’s clothing? Did he think people would think ill of him for saying – I discovered that this piece of garbage was molesting little boys in our own locker room and I made sure that he was imprisoned immediately and the victim provided for? How can he defend to himself, let alone the God is supposed to worship, his decision to literally “keep it in the family” at the expense of raped children? Is it that they were not his kids so who cares? Is it that they were the disenfranchised, so who cares? Is it that all he cared about was the image of his football team?
I know that many males will explain to me that being female, I can’t possibly understand the locker room mentality, the importance of omerta at any cost. That football is so crucial a piece of existance that its players and coaches should be allowed to do essentially anything as long as they play winning football.
They are right. I don’t get it, any more than I get the cult of college football and the fanatical fantasy that these athletes are “amateurs” and students who just happen to be able to play a game that nets their University uncounted zillions and themselves nothing but endless sexual partners.
I may be a fan of a team, or of an athlete, but if I EVER found out that the team had supported or enabled a rapist (hello Boston Red Sox and your skeletor in the closet – hahahaha) I would most certainly NOT excuse ANYTHING and would demand that anyone who allowed this to go on or didn’t report it be outed and punished accordingly, even if the only punisment available was social censure.
How, HOW???? could students support Joe Paterno, no matter what ELSE he had done, after learning that he put the importance of a football GAME above the safety and sanity of these poor raped boys? The support is based on, what, that he won football games and obeyed the letter of the law and only informed a person who he knew could be relied upon to sweep the unpleasantness under the rug?
You could try to excuse the graduate assiatant who witnessed the rape and didn’t call the police on the grounds that he was afraid for his future and chose to protect himself and let the child go to hell. Some excuse. But excusing the ONE person who had absolute power, the power to stop the rapist because he won FOOTBALL games – that is the utmost in unforgiveablilty.
I understand those who, like Joe Posnanski, who believed Paterno to be the moralest of the moral, shocked into disbelief. Disbelief, I understand. I would feel the same kind of disbelief and shock if someone who I believe is one of the moralest of the moral, like Lance Berkman, was accused of a heinous crime. BUT faced with incontrovertable evidence, I would certainly not be telling him – well, I still love you because you hit .300 as an Astro and had a 1.063 OPS+ in the World Series. That is less than nothing vs evil. And what Paterno did, keeping quiet, placing a stupid GAME over multiple human lives, was just as evil as the rapist.
It isn’t that I don’t understand the instinct of preserving the family - I guess this Paterno creep was virtually head of a family. I understand not wanting cops. I understand not wanting trouble. I understand not wanting scandal. I understand not wanting disgrace. But What I do NOT understand is tolerating a child rapist in your family because he is your family and at least so far, his victims are not One Of Your Own.
You want to know if I am going to let my own children play football. The twins don’t want to and Da Bull, who is enormous and urged frequently by those who don’t know better to go play football, tells them (and I quote): No thank you – I abhor gratuitous violence.
Yes, I did teach him them big ol words and he DID have to practice it until he got it juuuuuuuuust right…
And yes, their daddy and I HAVE sat down with them, discussed the importance of them feeling comfortable enough to tell us if someone tries to touch them in such a way that it makes them uncomfortable. We hope we made them understand that they would NOT be punished and that they should not think they should have to pay the price of silence and rape to continue on with their lives.