I am a Nittany Lion. I typically wear blue and white on Saturdays, drank the Creamery kool-aid for 4 years, and carry way too many memories to list here from my years in State College, PA.
For years, I have taught my SONS the chant, ‘When I say JoePa, You say Terno.’
Now, I need to explain to my SONS that Joe Paterno is not who I thought he was. He is not the kind of man who we should revere, he is not the nice grandpa-like guy who is the winning-est coach in college football, and he is certainly not a role model.
How do you tell 2 boys that Joe Paterno is actually the kind of man who hears about a colleague fondling little boys in the shower at Beaver Stadium and does not immediately call the police? How do you spend years telling your little boys that NO ONE is EVER allowed to touch their private parts and then cheer for a man who went about his normal business while that exact thing was happening right under his nose?
Forget Sports Center being the enemy today, turn on any station or pick up any newspaper and right there splattered is ‘Joe Paterno FIRED!’ ‘Why mommy?’ That is the question that so many moms and dads are struggling with today. I see the comments, questions, and tweets about it. How do we explain this atrocity to our kids? How?
I do not know the right answer. Everyone parents differently. I do know that I believe in being honest with my SONS. Unfortunately, all adults are not ‘nice,’ there are some very sick adults that harm children, and even worse there are adults that innocently stand by while this happens to CHILDREN.
I will not use words like fondling, diddling, or sodomize, but I will tell my SONS that these actions are unacceptable from anyone, whether they are a regular Joe or Joe Paterno. Adults touching children is NEVER allowed AND knowing that this is going on and NOT doing something is just as WRONG. Maybe worse?
I am not sure how Joe Paterno and the others involved laid their head down on their pillow for the last several years and went to sleep at night knowing that this happened in their ‘HOUSE.’ To me, being able to sleep knowing this IS a crime in and of itself.
Unfortunately, life lesson are often hard and painful, but this is one of those moments that I feel I must explain and talk about with my SONS. Teachable moments are excruciating, painful, and uncomfortable BUT they are nowhere near as difficult as the pain that the victims and the families of the victims are experiencing.
Although it pains me that this happened at my University and under the leadership that existed when I was there, I am still a Nittany Lion. My memories are still strong and full of the friendships that I formed while in State College, but I will find it very hard to wear blue and white this Saturday. It will be a reminder of the awful tragedy that occurred in the hands of those that created the aura of the blue and white.
Are you an alumni? Are you a parent? Are you both? Please share your thoughts and feelings. We can make sense of this together – maybe. RB