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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Public should care about child abuse, not Paterno’s job

    Closed lips have claimed another college football coach’s career.

    Six months after Jim Tressel resigned from the post as head coach at Ohio State University for not blowing the whistle on a scandal, Division I football’s winningest coach Joe Paterno was removed from his post at Pennsylvania State University following the damning scandal he failed to report to the police. After then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary reportedly saw former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky molesting a young boy in the football facility’s shower room, Paterno notified his athletic director, Tim Curley. Curley failed to follow up on the matter. Paterno then sat on the issue for over a decade. Sandusky has since been charged with 40 counts of molesting young boys between 1994 and 2009.

    Early Wednesday, Paterno announced he would retire at the conclusion of the season, but later that night, the PSU Board of Trustees forced him out, as well as President Graham Spanier, effective immediately.

    There are seemingly endless questions surrounding this situation. But perhaps what ought to be recognized here is that just because these horrendous actions occurred surrounding a college football program doesn’t mean they deserve some sort of different treatment per se. The actions of Sandusky and the ignorance and inaction by Paterno, Curley, Spanier and Vice President Gary Schultz are all unforgivable. Regardless of how important they are to a university, they all did something horribly wrong.

    Unfortunately, child molestation happens all too often and we never become outraged until we see it front and center. Would this be half as big of a deal to the entire nation if some random pedophile in Pennsylvania had done this? No. Would this have been nearly as popular of a topic if McQueary, now Penn State’s wide receivers coach, had done what he should have done and gone to the authorities? Most likely not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tragedy we should care about.

    It would have been a story, yes, but only because a college football defensive coordinator did it, not because Americans would have been clamoring to discover more information. Would students have lined up outside Sandusky’s house chanting for him to stay at Penn State and defending him like they did for Paterno? Don’t kid yourself. Would students have begun lining up in Sandusky’s defense? Absolutely not, he didn’t win them a record 409 games like Paterno did.

    This story has been put under the microscope because we’re dealing with Paterno and his reputation. Arguably, the allegations are under greater scrutiny because the team is doing so well. Would those affiliated with the university suggest that Paterno stay if he had an abysmal season like 2005? All he did that year was lose some games and they wanted him out. This year he won games and contended for a conference title, all the while having stayed mum on a decade-old atrocity.

    Students and writers may rise up to defend Paterno, but this is not the time to sit and reminisce about the glories of old and future wins — victims and families are hurting here. Forget the program, forget the wins, forget the conference title, and forget your “allegiance,” because somewhere, there are eight children coping with this, and it didn’t have to happen.

    So let’s stop lying to ourselves and trying to explain away the reality of this situation. We’re only paying attention because it’s a prominent college football program. We’re only having this discussion because Paterno was a historic coach. If this happened anywhere else in America, it would still be an atrocity. We only care because it involved a coach who could win games. Child molestation is evil, no matter where it happens and not matter whose job is at stake.

    — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Storm Byrd, Nicole Dimtsios and Steven Kwan. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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