Penn State Riots Show Students Care More About Football Than Child Abuse

penn state riotsI always thought Penn State was one of those universities that attracted the best and brightest. But after watching news coverage of the violent student riots Wednesday night after the school's board of trustees fired its legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, I'm having doubts.

It's understandable that the students would be devastated over the fact that their beloved coach had been ousted just three games shy of the end of his 46th season -- especially in connection to something as disturbing as a child sex abuse scandal. But remember: This is a guy who failed to respond appropriately to very serious allegations that his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually abused young boys. (He reported the matter to his immediate superior, but did not alert the police.) And, the fact that students are tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van in protest just makes it seem like they think football is more important than the victims of the abuse.


Many of the students -- who weren't too drunk to articulate what they were protesting -- said they were upset at the national news media for exaggerating Paterno's role in the scandal. Here's a particularly incensed student who took a break from all the partying rioting to express his outrage over the firing (start watching around 0.55):

To repeat: "If you call [Paterno] a legend, treat him like a legend." I hope when that guy sobers up this morning, he doesn't die of shame over the fact that he thinks football legends are above the moral obligations of doing everything they can to stop child sex abuse -- and said as much on live TV!

More on Penn State Scandal: Jerry Sandusky Abuse Case Makes Us Worry About Our Own Kids

But he's far from the only student who should be embarrassed. That these college students are so "passionate" about their football team and coaches and, alternatively, silent about something as serious as child sex abuse may be a clue they're sorely out of touch with real world problems. They think the scandal made their school look bad? They're making it a lot worse.

The entire Sandusky scandal is enough to make you sick. But rioting and destroying property in defense of a guy who enabled an accused pedophile is unfortunately just as nauseating.


Image via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

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