Unacceptable: Joe Paterno or Average Joe

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

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles November 10, 2011, 12:04 PM

    I’m struggling with the same thing – what do I tell my boys? And I find myself in the same camp as you. I will try to be honest to a point, as much as I can say without saying too much. I will also tell them that I still love my school regardless of the horrible actions of a few people. This whole series of events is sickening and hardly believable…
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  • Wendy November 10, 2011, 9:05 PM

    Obviously this whole thing is a nightmare. So much so I have been having a really hard time making my words clear and I find myself talking in circles. I am not in the same position as you as having to discuss with my sons, as they are younger and though they know I went to PSU we don’t talk about it quite as much. I am not going to defend JoePa, but I do think he is, as far as the facts thus far indicate, taking a harder fall than possibly necessary. He is not the main villain here and it seems unfair that he is being deemed as one. As adults we all have a responsibility to protect ALL of the children. I tell my kids all of the time that if they are ever in danger, and we are not around, to find another adult with kids to help out. Yes, it is all of our responsibilities, and a lot of people failed here. A LOT. FAILED. JoePa is taking the blame for everyone. McQueary still has a job as of now. He is a whole list of things I won’t get into. I guess, in the end, the simple statement: “with great power comes great responsibility” is ever so true here.
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    • Rachel Blaufeld November 11, 2011, 7:47 AM

      Wendy – I do agree in a sense that it is so sad that this will be what Joe Paterno is remembered by….As for McQueary, I definitely think there needs to be action taken. I am not sure why it has not been done yet — other than maybe because he was a student at the time that it happened? I feel pretty certain that he was bullied over the years to stay quiet – who did that? Those people deserve action, too.

      You are so right – with power comes responsibility – and in the end those with power allowed awful things to happen under their watch.
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  • Nicole Fende November 11, 2011, 10:45 AM

    I appreciate you addressing this head on Rachel. Although my daughter is too young to understand this, I think you are correct in being honest with your kids. While I’m sure its incredibly disappointing and disheartening to learn this about someone you’ve seen as a great role model, to me the lesson is that no person or institution is above reproach. The more we build someone up to be perfect, the harder it becomes to accept the all too human flaws which can lead to a horrendous cover up like this.

    As far as McQueary is concerned (the guy who actually witnessed it) there are no words, even the four letter kind, that can express my absolute and utter disgust for him. He saw it happening and did nothing? I’d have picked up the nearest bat or other heavy object and started pounding away on this sick pedophile. Morally McQueary is just as responsible as the actual pedohpile.
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  • HouseTalkN November 15, 2011, 3:33 PM

    We are a total sports family- play ’em, coach ’em, and my Mr. writes about them. So…I felt like we were forced into this conversation with all 4 of our kiddos but especially our 8 and 10 year old boys.
    And, I’m with Nicole. I say lock him in a room with the mothers and a few baseball bats.


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