Joe Paterno Supporters Are Allowed Their Opinion

joe paternoI saw on the evening news last night that students were occupying Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's front lawn. They were just standing there, in his yard, in the dark, chanting Joe's name over and over. There were some signs, too, but I couldn't make them out. Then Coach came to the door and acknowledged the gathering student body. His shoulders slumped and his head held low, there were tears in his eyes as he witnessed the overwhelming show of love and support, and for the briefest moment, I bet he forgot that Jerry Sandusky ever existed.


But he does, and he's allegedly done some terrible, unforgivable things. And so has Joe. Yes, he called the A.D., but he didn't do anything else. Sounds like he sort of washed his hands of the situation after he hung up that phone and kept on keeping on. He could've done a helluva lot more to stand up for what's right, but he didn't, and it's hopefully one of, if not the biggest regrets of his 84 years on Earth.

So when I saw those college kids in his yard, my first reaction was that they're high on the Lion Kool-Aid. That all they care about is winning games and tradition and blue and white -- that they're overlooking the significant wrongdoing that's gone on in their institution. Three-quarters of me still believes that, but one-quarter of me can see it from the other side.

They might think that Coach has done a lot right in his life and career, too. He's college football's most winningest coach, he's donated millions to the school, and he's been widely respected for the positive impact he's had on the players, college, and community. Maybe he doesn't need to be entirely abandoned by those who've admired him for so long. Then again, maybe he does. But isn't he allowed to be supported just as much as he's allowed to be abhorred? Someone can hate an action with all their heart, but they don't necessarily need to condemn the person's entire life. Students, and whoever, really, can show their gratitude for the things Paterno's done right in his life even if they hate what he did wrong.

What do you think of the students' support of Joe Paterno?


Photo via audreyjm529/Flickr

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