I've been putting off writing this post for the last few days because I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and write a calm, sensible post without screaming for some reason or another. I needed to find a way to put aside the anger, hate, sadness, animosity, and sheer 'ahhhhhhhhhh' that came along with every news story about the "Penn State Scandal." Now I lay here in bed late at night, finally ready to express my thoughts.
First, lets get a few things out in the open.
1) I AM Penn State, and I ALWAYS will be. I have so much pride in my school, not because of its football program, but because of what it made me. Sure, I went to some games, and, I love having a team to cheer for. I will always remember the roar of the crowd on football day, which no doubt will be louder than ever this year, but football is not what define me. My friends define me. My education defines me. My experiences define me. Had it not been for this wonderful institution, I would never be the person that I am today. I would not have had the opportunities that have opened so many doors for me. I would not be married to a wonderful man and work at NASA, had it not been for Penn State. So no, I will not turn my back on my school. Jerry Sandusky does NOT define me, and he will NOT define my school.
2) This has never been and will not be a "Penn State Scandal." This isn't even a "Football Scandal." It is a horrible tragic event that happen to occur at Penn State because of a few people, most notably and MOST importantly Jerry Sandusky. No doubt you have already made up your mind who you want to blame for this, and that's fine. Everyone will have their own opinion, just as I have mine. I won't even ask you to do the sensible thing and wait for justice to be shown in a court of law. Or to sit and really think about what you consider the "facts" of this case. Because, of course, we all know that the news media never sensationalizes anything. But I ask you this, do you honestly think that we are not already ashamed that this happened at our school? Do you think that 50,000 + people all gathered together and decided to cover this up? We are saddened by the tragic events that have unfolded, and we feel sorrow for the victims. But these things that have occurred, they do not change the academics of the school. They do not define the educators, the students, or the alumni. This is a Jerry Sandusky scandal, plain and simple.
3) I am disappointed in my school, and in my society, not because of what one man did, but because of the reactionary decisions of a handful of people. We used to believe that people were innocent until proven guilty. We used to believe that people would seek out the facts of a case before expressing their opinion. But it's 2012, and that's just not true anymore. I am disappointed that in the aftermath of the media breaking the Jerry Sandusky Scandal my school chose to fire Paterno but not Curley, McQuery, or Schultz. I am disappointed that my school chose to hire a PI who would no doubt give them the answers that they paid for with very little physical evidence. I am disappointed that the Board of Trustees at my school would rather react to the 24 news cycle instead of the United States Justice System.
But should I really expect any more than this? We have become a reactionary society. News is 24/7. We must have answers NOW. We cannot wait. We must blame someone, because of course, we are never responsible ourselves. But it is not good enough to blame someone who is responsible, we must blame someone who is visible, someone who will make a more sensationalized news story. Forget about those actually responsible, they are not news. Forget about those who hurt, for they are boring.
For two days I struggled with the latest NCAA sanctions against Penn State. Scholarships lost, bowl games missed, championships years away, 112 wins "taken away". Is it deserving, maybe. Am I severely troubled by the fact that the NCAA never conducted its own investigation, absolutely. Do I think that last punishment is ridiculous, yes. You cannot rewrite history. And in my personal belief you should not take away the wins from the hundreds of players who worked tirelessly to achieve them. This scandal had nothing to do with football, and in no way gave an unfair advantage to the players on that field. We all know that it is really about punishing Joe Paterno. So you want to take away his title as the most winningest coach, go ahead, because I can guarantee you he wouldn't care. Nor does he care about the statue recently removed from Beaver Stadium. What he always cared most about were the students at that school and the importance he put on the academics of his players, but unfortunately for most people they will never know that. Because it is just easier to trust what the media spoon feeds us than to go searching for the truth. I consider myself fortunate to have been at Penn State during the Joe Paterno years and I am appreciative of everything he did for the University during his time there. He may not be perfect, but are any of us?