if you were paying attention to my "if you really knew me" post, you'd have noticed that one of the things said that if you really knew me, you'd know i was a michigan fan not only because i have family who live there, but also because i hated penn state so much that i just wanted to cheer for one of their rivals. this is 100% accurate.
if you ever set foot in central pa, you know very quickly that you are in penn state territory. growing up there, everyone was a penn state fan, if not a penn state alum. we may as well have lived in state college. penn state football was the religion, and joe paterno was the deity. he was revered like a god. in the eyes of most central pennsylvanians, joepa could do no wrong.
i realize now that i have never been one to like something just because it's popular. in fact, i will often choose to take an opposite stance on something just so i can be different. or just so i can argue. i always thought that i chose to be a michigan fan because my favorite cousin, who i idolized, lived in michigan, loved u of m, and ended up going there for college. as i've gotten older, though, and as i've secretly relished watching my penn state fan friends wallow in misery as michigan beat them year after year, i've started to realize that my loyalty to michigan had nothing to do with my cousin and everything to do with my chance to be a thorn in everyone's side. i privately gloated as penn state lost games and as they played terrible football. and i say privately because i don't like to be an obnoxious sports fan and rub it in people's faces. nobody likes that person.
none of this is to say that when the scandal broke about jerry sandusky i was in any way, shape, or form happy to see penn state fall from grace. when the story first broke, i made clear my belief that joe paterno and others in administration did far less than they should have, but that i still supported the school and the students and alumni, many of whom i count as friends. i got into arguments on facebook with friends who refused to acknowledge that their precious joepa had done any wrong. when i made a statement that paterno didn't do enough and didn't do the right thing, one of my sister's friends, who had graduated from penn state with callie, asked if i had read the report that stated that he had done nothing illegal. i responded that i haven't read the report, but i don't need to to know right from wrong. but then the university fired him. and didn't let him finish the season. and it made me sad that he was being forced out ahead of schedule. i mourned for my sister, who was devastated by the news. it all seemed tragically wrong to me.
and then this past week's fbi report came out, confirming that coach paterno and the 3 others in administration had knowingly covered up the abuse for 14 years. they had continued to let sandusky on campus, around children. they had covered it up, all for the good of the program. and i'm sad all over again. sad for all the students and alumni who thought that there was still some way that they could hold paterno up to a higher standard. and it all came crashing down. he was just as guilty as everyone else. he knew about the abuse and he didn't do anything with that knowledge.
there are a lot of people out there calling for a lot of things, from tearing down paterno's statue to suspending the football program. i agree with taking down the statue. his behavior - or lack thereof - shouldn't be memorialized. he shouldn't be idolized. if they want to keep it on campus, then move it to the fine arts building, so people can choose to visit it. don't force people to walk by it and remember the many ways in which paterno disappointed them, not to mention the ways in which he let down those children. some people argue that he did so many other great things for the university. so what? no matter what he did for the university, he still allowed sandusky to destroy the lives of multiple young boys.
i'm torn about suspending the football program. on the one hand, why punish the current players for wrongs committed by their administration? on the other hand, the penn state football program needs to learn that they have to held accountable. that just because they bring in money for the university, doesn't mean they can be above the rules.
it's all a big ol' mess, and having grown up in central pa makes it so much more intense. i hope that eventually everyone can move forward. in the meantime, i think this coming football season is going to be a tough one for everyone involved. it'll be interesting to watch it all unfold.