Four years ago today, late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno was fired.
Since then, the Penn State community, from students to alumni, has been rocked by the allegations that preempted the firing and resulted in former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s imprisonment.
The majority of current undergraduate students were not on campus when the sex abuse case broke. All the same, the effect has not disappeared. The Penn State community is divided by arguments over whether Joe Paterno deserved to be fired. There are so many incredible events that bring our school and community together, and the debate over Joe Paterno continues to keep us apart.
But as much as Joe Paterno contributed to our football program and Penn State as a whole, the fact remains that we have to continue to move on.
James Franklin won’t be Paterno. Bill O’Brien couldn’t be Paterno. It’s one thing to honor a legacy and another thing altogether to block out the present by imposing impossible ideals on others.
Some alumni have struggled with moving past the sex abuse case and focusing on the day-to-day problems of our university.
Penn State as a whole has done well in moving forward, and we should follow its example. We must focus on what’s really important. Not wins: those affected by Sandusky.
We were all affected in some capacity by the sex abuse case, and we should be supporting each other as well as the men who were abused by Sandusky. The takeaway is not Joe Paterno’s legacy. We should be more vigilant about preventing child abuse, and understanding the stories of those affected.
Our expansive alumni network branches throughout the world. If we come together, we can effect real change. We can be a leader for other universities and take steps to continue to prevent child abuse and sexual abuse.
So on the anniversary of Joe Paterno’s firing, forget 409 for a moment, and think about the men whose lives were irreparably damaged by Sandusky’s actions.