November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno deserved to be sacked

The rioting by Penn State students on hearing the news that football coach Joe Paterno was summarily sacked (along with the university president) by the university's Board of Trustees is inexcusable.

According to news reports, graduate assistant Mike McCreary (sometimes spelled as McQueary) observed assistant coach Jerry Sandusky raping a 10-year old boy in the showers in the locker room all the way back in 2002. Why he did not immediately try to stop it is bad enough. He apparently reported it to Paterno the next day but Paterno says he was not told the details and simply reported to his superiors that there was some kind of problem and left it at that.

I find that unbelievable. Paterno exercises tight control over his operations. To think that he would not have asked for details of what McCreary had observed is preposterous. The fact that he and McCreary did nothing even when no action was taken against Sandusky for nine years is shameful. We are talking about the rape of a child. Paterno and McCreary and anyone else who knew of Sandusky's serial predatory behavior and did nothing deserve a far greater punishment than firing.

The code of silence and cover-up in the Penn State football program reminds me of the Catholic church's child abuse scandal and raises the question: Is there something about an all-male culture that makes people tolerate horrible abuses such as these?


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Defense of the indefensible is coming from all quarters. I was reading about an twitter-based confrontation between CFL quarterback Henry Burris and former NHL player Theoren Fleury. Burris was defending Paterno and his cult of personality.

Fleury is a survivor of repeated molestation by disgrace hockey coach Graham James, and wrote a book about it. Fleury is furious about Burris's comments and has made his position clear: as soon as you know, you call the police. There is no other course of action.

A little info for those who don't follow hockey: Fleury was not the only victim of James. Sheldon Kennedy is a close friend of Fleury and were both abused by James at the same time. Kennedy first spoke publicly about his ordeal back in 1996 and received support and positive response from all quarters, including opposing teams' fans when he returned to the NHL.

Both Fleury and Kennedy know of another NHL player who was also repeatedly raped by James at the same time but they have chosen not to speak publicly (rumours suggest a VERY high profile player soon to be in the Hall of Fame). Kennedy's respected Fleury's wish for silence until Fleury wrote his book in 2009, and both are doing the same about the third player.


Posted by P Smith on November 10, 2011 03:42 PM

Thank you, Mano! These words need to be said. Students rioting in defense of such a person is as horrible as people applauding the death of a person who does not have insurance.

You raise an interesting question at the end. I do not think it is about "all male." While issues are never as simple as a single etiology, I think -- as so much of the research on sexual abuse has shown -- that the issue has more to do with power. Abuse is tolerated when people (men and women alike) have power to protect. Clergy in the Catholic church were protecting their power. Paterno was protecting his power. Very, very sad.

Posted by Tim on November 10, 2011 08:46 PM

Is there something about an all-male culture that makes people tolerate horrible abuses such as these?

I guess the male culture is the same as the sports culture, but even before blaming the culture, I would blame the values of the person who saw the encounter between the 58 yr old and the 10 yr old kid.

That graduate assistant, instead of stopping the incident, called his dad, and the dad said, 'get out of there as fast as you can.' What in the world?

What about---call the cops and get the kid away from there? And the dad saying to get away from there? What type of human beings are these?

Posted by Ansley on November 11, 2011 08:18 AM