Why Are Students Defending Joe Paterno?

In the Motherlode Blog on the New York Times, KJ DellAntonia writes about the spec­ta­cle of Penn State University stu­dents riot­ing in the streets:

Wednesday night I was watch­ing ESPN’s cov­er­age of the fir­ing of Penn State foot­ball coach Joe Paterno (an event whose mag­ni­tude one announcer just com­pared indi­rectly to the Kennedy assas­si­na­tion), and won­der­ing how I’d feel if my child was stand­ing on Paterno’s lawn, or on the streets of State College, sup­port­ing a man who could hear a graphic descrip­tion of a sex­ual assault on a young boy and then choose to walk away. I’d like to hear one of those stu­dents sup­port the argu­ment that the coach deserves “one more game.” And then I’d like them to tell me how they’d explain it to a 10-year-old.

I believe that the stu­dents of Penn State need to take a moment, for­get about foot­ball and cham­pi­onships, and step back to ask them­selves what they would do had they been in Paterno’s shoes when the inci­dent involv­ing Sandusky was reported to him.

There is a time for rec­og­niz­ing achieve­ments, and there is a time to acknowl­edge that hor­ri­ble things have hap­pened, that chil­dren have been hurt, and that there are some mis­takes that no amount of suc­cess can absolve. This is the lat­ter, and that’s a lesson Penn State needs to con­vey.

Read the entire arti­cle, and give it some thought. Spanier and Paterno are not the only ones who will be leav­ing the Penn State University orga­ni­za­tion in the com­ing weeks.