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miércoles, noviembre 09, 2011

Joe Paterno: Please Quit Now (Updated)

At noon Saturday, 19th ranked Nebraska will pay 12th ranked Penn State in football at Beaver Stadium. Beaver Stadium at Penn State has an official seating capacity of 106,572, making it the second largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world. There is every reason to expect that every single seat will be occupied for this game. And there is every reason to believe that when the Penn State team takes the field, every single person will cheer that team. And, if he’s permitted to stall his “retirement” past noon on Saturday when the game begins, its record holding, long term coach, Joe Paterno, will also be loudly cheered. I do not expect him to be booed, as he so richly deserves. I do not expect the crowd to greet him with icy silence and fingers pointed in accusation. Already hundreds of students have demonstrated their unconditional support for JoePa, no matter what he may have failed to do to protect young boys from sex abuse.

What we now know about the allegations in the Sandusky child sex abuse case makes it clear that Paterno must go. He needs to quit. In short: at least one rape occurred in the Penn State locker room shower. Paterno only reported the incident to his boss. Paterno was told about the rape by someone who was apparently an eyewitness to it. Paterno then let the matter drop when to no one’s surprise, those above him didn’t call the police or report the incident or pursue the rapist. In other words, Paterno’s response was utterly inadequate to protect the victim of that rape, and it did nothing to prevent the abuse of others in the future by the same man.

One has to wonder how the stadium’s cheers and accolades for the 84-year old coach will be heard by the alleged victims of Sandusky’s abuse. Not to mention the many other children who have been abused by others. Will the cheers say that football is more important than young children’s personal safety? And one can only wonder what the unfortunate spectacle of Paterno’s standing on the sidelines says about our commitment as a society to protecting all children from sex abuse.

Joe Paterno needs to quit. And he needs to do it now, before Saturday. If he doesn’t quit, he needs to be fired. If there’s no consensus to fire him, which would a shameful development, he needs to be suspended until the end of the season. Penn State cannot permit him to take the field for this game and receive the adoring cheers of the fans. That would send entirely the wrong message about Paterno’s nonfeasance, that University's priorities, and role that sport plays in this society.

Indeed, Paterno himself today recognized his utter failure to act responsibly when he wrote,

“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

I wish he had done more,too. And I bet that the victim of the abuse reported to Paterno wishes he had done more. And I bet the victims of abuse that occurred because there was no outcry wish he had done more. It's that simple. And now he needs to be gone.

Update: 10:30 pm. The University just fired its president and Joe Paterno. So for now, the matter is concluded. I still think Paterno should have quit, but if he had to be fired, so be it.

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