Pennsylvania Sports Fans Are Way Too Forgiving

I don't understand the student outrage about Joe Paterno's firing. The guy allegedly helped to cover up a heinous child rape scandal. He deserves to go.

Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back. “We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

Then again, Pennsylvania sports fans have also forgiven the unforgivable Michael Vick, and not to mention the Eagles for hiring/elevating him.

Note to aspiring athletes and coaches: If you commit a terrible crime, Pennsylvania will forgive you.

  • staci

    I saw a documentary on LOGO last weekend that featured the woman’s basketball coach and told the story of how many really promising careers she squashed because the girls were lesbians. The point was made that because she was a winner there was nothing done to change her behavior regarding the emotional abuse she inflicted upon those students. They also made the point that it had to be okay with Paterno because he was/is Penn State and he knew what was going on to those kids and did nothing to rein in the coach.

    • IrishGrrrl

      I think the message in America regarding sports is clear….if you’re a winner, you don’t have to follow the rules like everyone else. You get a pass. Obviously we have a priority problem in our culture. And then you have all of us that wouldn’t taken a pass nor would we give one to them, be they celebrity or not. Ultimately what we have here is clash between two separate aspects of the American psyche. The Worship of Success versus the concept of Individual Responsibility.

      • Laur

        Gotta wonder if this culture worships success because it has absolved so many from individual responsibility (at least in the short run) considering that those who have not yet achieved “success” always have the insistent demand made of them that they assume individual responsibility, even when they have no control over their circumstances (i.e.–less sympathy for rape/molestation victims than for those who fail to help them).

      • staci

        Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s just sports. Look at politics, the entertainment industry, the wealthy and corporate America. More and more it appears that those that have the money don’t have to follow the same rules that govern the rest of us. In my ideal world, wrong is always wrong – no matter who does it. The operative words there – my ideal world – present the issue though; lots of folks live outside my world. :-)

  • burgerburgher

    Please don’t paint with such a broad brush, “Pennsylvania” doesn’t embrace Paterno nor does “Pennsylvania” embrace Vick. Some do, most don’t.

    • Shawna Watson

      That is really great to hear burger- love to hear that there are people who get it. I don’t know what has happened to common sense. If you were approached by a colleague at work who said, “man, last night I came by the office late to pick up that Johnson memo for the presentation tomorrow and you know, Bob, I saw Mike’s office door was open and he was in there…raping a little boy” would your response be “oh let’s tell HR!” and then forget about it? Its morally reprehensible. Paterno being a great coach does not mean he surrenders his responsibility to the rest of the human race- esp as an educator, esp to children, esp when America right or wrong believes that sports are ‘teaching value’. Good gawd- who does that- calls HR but doesn’t follow up, doesn’t call the police???!!!! Seriously missing some freaking common sense!!!
      Bob is right. Vick is unforgiveable. He is not sorry- he is sorry he got caught and anyone who watched his first interview out- 60 Minutes- could see that he cries for no one but himself – and still is. I agree that he has tried to do good work for the HSUS but that is just because he has to. In no way has he “done his time”.

  • muselet

    Some wisdom from commenter actor212 at Sadly, No!:

    The next time some right wing asshat mentions the rioting DFH’s at Occupy, send him a video of State College, PA from last night.

    THAT’S how spoiled privileged children behave when things are taken away from them.


  • Razor

    Simple answer: football.

    ‘Murikans love their football as much as they love their Jeebus n’ deep fried butter corn dogs with cheese in the center.

  • Camille Klein

    Pens fans (and Flyers fans after them) also embraced a convicted rapist (Billy Tibbets). So them sticking up for somebody who was complicit in the rape of children is not really a stretch.

  • nicole

    I’m sorry, and I know that I should probably let this go, but it really bothers me when people defend Michael Vick, and I just want to provide a reminder in case anyone has forgotten exactly what went on.

    This does not mean that Vick’s crime can in any way be equated with the coverup of the rape of children, just that it should not be unacceptable to make derogatory remarks about Michael Vick.

    • Hsquared

      How exactly does withholding forgiveness hurt him? How does it benefit you? Mike Vick is off living his life, and from all appearances, conducting himself well on and off the field. He has paid the only real debt that he owned to society. If people what to continue to stew in their own juices over his past, who does it truly effect besides them? I don’t have time to hold grudges against someone who doesn’t even know I exist.

      • nicole

        I could care less about Michael Vick. I care only that people do not seem to see him as he is…….a sadistic animal abuser and killer.

        Adding….no, he did not pay his debt. And torturers of living creatures, IMO, should be completely shunned. Not glorified because they are sports figures.

      • nicole

        One more thing. Two questions for you and all those who defend Michael Vick.

        Does great performance in a sport trump lack of moral character?

        Do you really believe that a man who gleefully killed non-performing animals in very sadistic ways, and one by one–hanging, electrocution, drowning, and so forth, can really transform himself?

        • Robert Scalzi

          NAILED IT !!!

  • D_C_Wilson

    I really don’t have any words to express how outraged and heartbroken I feel about this scandal. I am a PSU alum. Paterno is now living proof that you can spend a lifetime building up a good reputation, but throw it away overnight.

    If you haven’t gone to Penn State, it’s almost impossible to understand the culture. Paterno has been held up as a god there for decades. He could do no wrong. But his failure to report that incident or even ask some follow-up questions with the administration was inexcusable. He deserved to go. No matter how storied his career has been, firing him and Spanier was the only response the University could do.

    But why the hell dos McQueary still have a job?

    As for the students protesting, they were knuckleheads. About the only thing I can say is that they don’t represent the majority of current students. At least I hope not.

    The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. I participated in fundraisers for The Second Mile! Like most students there at the time, I thought it was a worthwhile organization that helped at risk kids. Now, it makes my skin scrawl.

    • mrbrink

      Well said, D_C_.

      A good friend of mine and neighbor is a former local TV sportscaster who used to also do college football radio during the 60’s, 70s, 80s. He always knocks on the door and lays down his 5 minute sports report and we talk it all over. Everything from horse racing to hockey and all the majors. He’s got a grizzled pro-delivery to this day. He kind of sounds a lot like Jason Robards come to think of it. When I saw him yesterday he was obviously sunken and dejected and could barely muster his commentary on all this. Neither could I, really.

      I know he’d appreciate your take.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Well, this is just about the most awful thing I’ve ever heard about.

    (What I’m wondering is, WTF is a 10-year-old doing in a locker-room shower on a college campus in the first place? Was this coach actually bringing little kids onto campus so he could … Never mind. This is too sickening.)

    This reminds me a little bit of the Mepham High School football hazing scandal that happened on Long Island around 2003 or so. The team was off at a Pennsylvania summer camp for pre-season training (a lot of sleepaway camps rent their space to football teams and other groups after the regular summer session ends), and the freshman players were brutalized by upperclassmen in the cabins at night (really sick stuff that I won’t describe here).

    When the story broke (one of the victims could not conceal his injuries), the school inter alia canceled the football season, and the students walked out of class in protest. Not to protest the grotesque brutality, mind you, but to protest the imposition of consequences for that grotesque brutality. Some students were interviewed in the papers, blaming the victims for the cancellation of the season.

    Our priorities are out of whack, no question about it.

    • CanadaGoose

      Yes, he was bringing little boys there in order to fuck them.

      Paterno says he reported it to “higher ups” and told him not to bring kids to the locker room any more. Not CALL THE COPS. They covered for him so he could continue his child-raping for another ten years.

      McQueary (still a coach) reports SEEING Sandusky buggering a ten-year-old and he (McQueary) ran away.

    • D_C_Wilson

      You have to realize what Sandusky’s cover was. He was a popular assistant coach and the founder of a charity for at risk children. Under that cover, it was very easy to offer a tour of the PSU facility as a special perk for these kids. If you didn’t know he was a creepy child rapist, most people would think he was doing a nice thing by giving kids an inside look of PSU football and a chance to meet some of the players.

  • nicole
  • mrbrink

    Grief comes in stages.

    Acceptance is going to be a bitch. For Joe Paterno.

  • Robert Scalzi

    Unfortunately the fact that there was a vigil held by some extremely brave students and university staff to honor and show support for the victims was lost in the dust of the riot… I just want to say to those that did the right thing THANK YOU for showing true courage

  • RodgerFrench

    OK, enough with the Michael Vick bashing. The man fucked up, got caught and served serious jail time. This is not the same as shielding a pedophile; not in Pennsylvania, not anywhere.

    • Robert Scalzi

      There can never be enough Dog Torturer Bashing…. ever worked in a shelter ?? probably not…

      • eaglesfanintn

        I have – I volunteered at the SPCA where we adopted our lab/pit bull mix from. Vick has paid his debt to society and if rehabilitation and giving people second chances isn’t the point of our penal system, than why not just jail everyone for life?
        I am not a huge fan of Vick, and I wasn’t thrilled when my favorite team picked him up, but, as I said, he paid his dues and is working to help make amends for his horrible actions.

        • jmby

          Sorry, but I live in Virginia not far from Vick’s hometown and have colleagues who work in the town. Vick may have gone to jail, but he still hangs with some of the same scum he hung with before he got caught.

          And since when did anyone deserve to get their multimilliondollar job back with no lasting consequences after torturing other living beings?

        • Robert Scalzi

          I disagree . he has not paid his dues.

        • staci

          It’s not only the second chance thing, but the fact that we are a nation that believes in the constitution (especially on this board). Vick was tried by “a jury of his peers” and a sentence was handed down based on their verdict. Whether we agree (or not) with the amount of punishment he got, he has served that sentence and barring any future acts should be allowed to continue to live his life. If he’s lucky enough to resume it in his chosen profession, so be it. Why would we go against all we believe in because we don’t like the outcome of a particular situation that takes advantage of the source of our belief system? I get the anger at what Vick did; I don’t understand the level of anger generated because he was able to be employed after serving his time.

          • nicole

            People are angry because a sociopath was more or less rewarded for his past performance in sports even after committing a heinous crime.

            And yes, torturing and killing living creatures for fun is a heinous crime.

            And no, sociopaths are not capable of real remorse or reform.

          • Robert Scalzi

            Sorry but the whole he served his time argument is a cop out… When there are thousands of people (myself included) who are having a hell of a time just getting a call back because of past marijuana convictions and Scum that commit the most heinous acts imaginable for “sport” are rewarded w/ `100 million dollar contracts I don’t think that justice was served… The rat bastard didn’t even get charged w/ animal cruelty because the laws are so ridiculously weak in Virginia. Had he been convicted of Felony Dog Fighting in Fla. he would still be in Prison. 16 months for what he did was a complete miscarriage of justice.

    • nicole

      What am I missing? Where is the “Vick bashing”? And why can Vick not be bashed to begin with? For some reason, Vick bashing seems to infuriate more people than Paterno’s culpability in this mess.

      Adding……..and where did anyone compare Vick to a pedophile or even to Paterno? [there obviously is no comparison

      Edit–okay, I see Bob’s remark now. It’s his blog. He can bash whoever he wants. He did not compare Vick to Paterno. And, it isn’t like Vick doesn’t deserve it.

      • mrbrink

        Animal cruelty for sport is sadistic.

        • nicole

          Completely agree.

        • laddieluv

          I agree.

          So is animal cruelty NOT for sport.

          Of any kind.

          Tears form.

  • nicole

    Two excellent pieces on this story:

    If these students don’t understand what Paterno did, their parents need to explain it to them.

    Child rape is one of the two or three most heinous crimes I can imagine. Paterno deserves not only firing, but the shame of having his name associated with such a thing for eternity.

    “They tarnished a legend”

    Oh no. The legend tarnished himself.

  • Robert Scalzi

    Rioting over the firing of the Child Rapist protector Joe Paterno, WTF is wrong w/ those kids ??? Future Republicans I guess….

    • jmby

      At the risk of sounding like a 40-something oldster, what do you expect from kids who, as a generation, were rarely told no, expect everything without work or sacrifice, and are taught the value of nothing – including having morals and ethics?

      I’m back in college at my age, and am shocked and appalled by the sense of entitlement, selfishness and basic “fuck you” attitudes of so many 20-somethings.

      It sucks.

      • Robert Scalzi

        jmby, I have to agree, when I returned to college as a 31 yr old (yrs ago) it was incredible what I witnessed , pretty much what you describe as your experience… the professors were fantastic tho and there intererst in the few who were driven was exceptional. We had the same conversation about the youth of today (and that was over a decade years ago) unfortunately the more things change the more they stay the same sometimes… Good luck in your educational journey.

  • gwingert

    It’s just amazing, the mind set of these idiotic students!!!! Buzz Bissinger at the Daily Beast has a great post that says it all about this fiasco!!!!

  • Kurt Basham

    “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

    Really? That’s what tarnished it?

  • JMAshby

    I attribute the student’s behavior to ignorance. They clearly don’t grasp the severity of the situation.

    If I’m wrong, and they do know all of the details, then I think that says a lot about America.