It isn’t “Just a Game” Anymore.

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, you likely understand the myriad meanings of the name “Jerry Sandusky.” If you have been under a rock, here is the short version. Sandusky, a former assistant coach at Penn State University set up a charity for at-risk kids and used Penn State property to run his charity camp–what would become a virtual pipeline for prospective victims. Recently, Sandusky was convicted on over forty counts of child sexual abuse–including child rape–perpetrated over roughly fifteen years.

Penn State University conducted their own investigation with ex-FBI director Louis Freeh. According to his report, university officials, including beloved head coach Joe Paterno, former Penn State president Graham Spanier, VP Gary Schultz, and AD Tim Curley, knowingly and purposefully concealed Sandusky’s crimes from authorities in order to save face for their football program. In other words, Paterno and Co.’s resistance to reporting Sandusky allowed him to prey on young boys for a decade or so.

Everyone can agree that Jerry Sandusky’s actions were those of an unabashedly evil man. The presumed grey area  arises when considering the actions of university officials, including Joe Paterno. After the shocking details of the Freeh report, there was a public outcry to remove Paterno’s statue from in front of Beaver Stadium.

For those of you who aren’t rabid college football fans like us, here’s the background: Paterno coached Penn State for over forty years. This man was considered a living legend (or, in some people’s estimation, a living saint). He was praised for his leadership of young men on and off the football field. Paterno and his family donated a large sum to the university for a library which was consequently named after him. The Big Ten Football Championship Trophy, among other distinguished college football awards, bore his name.

In 2001, Penn State installed a large bronze statue of Paterno in front of their stadium, which portrayed paterno, pointing to the sky, and leading a group of players, presumably onto the field. A nearby wall reads, “Joseph Vincent Paterno: Educator, Coach, Humanitarian.”

Amidst the Penn State scandal, there have been repeated calls for removal of the statue, which, under the direction of President Rodney Erickson, took place this morning. This, however, only happened after groups had been camped out to “protect” the statue from vandals late last week.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Yes, it was really a statue that needed protecting in this whole affair.

Joe Paterno was a great football coach. I think Penn State’s record speaks for itself. Joe Paterno, however, was not a saint. He was, as is now obvious, a conflicted man who, it seems, wanted to do well by his school, whether that meant donating money to the library or protecting his football program from a sex abuse scandal that will, ultimately, likely destroy it precisely because of his cover up.

The issue here is not Paterno’s legacy as a coach, but his actions as a man that were judged before he was done living.

We do this a lot now. It’s not just Joe Paterno or the college football world who decided to “call the game” at halftime and canonize Paterno as some sort of living saint. It is, admittedly, difficult to judge a body of work when you don’t have the entire body of work in front of you. This is why we should perhaps wait to praise living men as if there were something more than men. We are looking for living heroes. We are a society grasping for something real, someone to look up to, and when we think we find them, we treat them as superhuman. We feel as if we need a real life Batman, Superman, Spiderman. We are too quick to elevate men to the status of gods before they have a chance to show us that they deserve it.

To make another football comparison, take the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In order to be inducted, there is a five-year waiting period from the time a coach or player retires from the game. This is not even waived if a prospective inductee dies during the waiting period. This is one thing the Hall of Fame does right, amidst much criticism. It’s hard to judge someone’s body of work as a coach or a player when you’re too close to it; it’s called bias. It’s human and normal, but it does cause us to overlook shortcomings that might otherwise be a call for concern on some level. Often it’s small, but imagine if the college football world had stuck to a five year waiting period after Paterno’s retirement before building what amounts to a shrine to the man outside his home turf.

Imagine the absence of the absurd fiasco of seemingly-heartless Penn State students and others who took to the streets after Paterno was fired for his complicity in Sandusky’s years of abuse.

Imagine that changing the names of multiple awards for excellent in college football was not necessary.

Imagine the absence of Penn State students and fans “protecting” the statue of a man who failed to protect innocent children because he put the reputation of his football program before their safety.

We are too eager to live history in the present. We want to memorialize, categorize, archive, and canonize people and things before they have a chance to pass out of the now and into the then. It’s hard to judge history as it happens; maybe we should withhold public praise of individual historical actors before we have a chance to see what they’ve done as a whole.
We don’t call the winner at halftime of a football game. We shouldn’t have called Paterno a saint before we had a comprehensive view of his life. What we can say about Paterno is that he was a good coach. He did some good things for PSU. He was also a conflicted and imperfect man who made a heinous mistake, a morally-reprehensible decision. We should not white wash history by acting as if what Joe Paterno did or failed to do doesn’t matter. Leave him in the record books. Leave his name on the library. Let these be a testament to his achievements. But don’t continue to venerate the man as some sort of saint; maintaining a statute that calls him a “humanitarian” when he failed so egregiously by some of our society’s most innocent, our children, is a gross fallacy. And it is painfully obvious, judging by the statue’s group of “protectors,” that leaving the statue in place would only facilitate this white-washing.

Penn State and college football in general need to remember this gross and tragic failure to stand up for what is right. The NCAA appears to agree, and will announce Penn State’s sanctions at 9 AM Eastern tomorrow–sanctions that are expected to include a multi-year scholarship reduction, a multi-year bowl ban, and an unprecedented $30-60 million fine to be put “toward an endowment for children’s causes.” We need to remember that football is a game, and there are more important things than winning or losing. It’s not how you play the game; it’s how you live your life. Joe Paterno’s statue should be replaced with a permanent reminder of Sandusky’s victims. It doesn’t have to be a statue of a child. It just has to be a symbol that reminds us all that football is a game, but life is not, and it’s the decisions we make off the field that will come to define our legacy.

This post was co-written by a couple of college football fanatics: Kate and her boyfriend, Jon.

Guest Post: Seven Things You Should Never Do on a Blind Date

I moved two hours away from my hometown last June, and it has been ridiculously hard to meet people. Scratch that, it has been ridiculously hard to meet normal people. (Not that I don’t enjoy egotistical douchebags from the club…)

Since it has been difficult to meet someone besides at the bar, I decided to join a dating website. I won’t name names, but let’s just say the commercials are false advertisement. Here is the commercial that prompted me to join:

So, because for whatever reason I thought this was a good idea, I made a profile on this dating website and then waited patiently to meet my soul mate. In the meantime, I had several friends supporting me on my decision, saying “Oh yes, my friend so-and-so met her boyfriend on <insert dating website here>!”

Let me tell you, everyone lies. They lie about these “friends” because they do not actually exist. Because I have no clue how they met a decent person among these stupid assholes.

After being basically stalked via internet a few times, I was finally messaged by a guy who seemed, well… normal. Shocking. We sent a few messages back and forth and decided to meet for drinks in a public place about 30 minutes away from me.

After this meeting, I can now say I hold the claim to the worst blind date in the world. Some of you may argue this was not blind because I saw what he looked like before meeting him, but I will go to my grave confirming it was blind because the guy that showed up and the guy in the picture were not the same person.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

7 Things You Should Never Do on a Blind Date

1. Don’t not be the person in your photos. I don’t know why I actually have to write this (or any of these really) but for some reason, this guy thought he would swoon me by showing up as someone completely different than the person he pretended to be on the dating website. In this day and age, Facebook and Google will allow the person you are going on a date with to see your pictures. Keep the ones on your dating page recent, and don’t try to be someone you are not. Because when you show up with what little hair you have left slicked back over your balding head, and the picture of you on your dating profile has a head full of blonde hair, I will be pissed. (I was pissed.)

2. Don’t tell me about your recent run-in with the law. The splendid human being I went on a blind date with told me as soon as we sat down and ordered drinks, “I really shouldn’t be drinking these, I am on probation.” Great, now I am fearing for my life even more than before.

3. Don’t over share. This follows point #2. After letting me know about his stint in parole and then probation, the guy proceeded to tell me about his mom’s cancer and subsequently, death, his sister’s autism, his brother’s bipolar disorder, and his hatred for black and Mexican people. Within 5 minutes of meeting him. Before I ever said a word.

4. Don’t be an idiot. Because I live in Michigan, I get to do a cool thing with my hand anytime I need to tell someone where I’m from. Basically, you hold up your right hand, palm facing toward you, and stick your thumb out. That’s the lower peninsula of Michigan, and you can point on it where you’re from. See below:

Every Michigander knows this. I think they teach you when you’re still in the womb. When this guy (born and raised in Michigan) asked me where I was from, naturally, I held out my hand and pointed to the crook of the thumb (Bay City). He proceeded to tell me that the Michigan hand goes this way (flipping my hand over, and frankly touching me way too early for just having met me). After several minutes of convincing him that no, Michigan goes this way (flipping my hand back over) I pointed again to the area where I am originally from. (This is where he showed me his super smarts)

“Oh, so you’re right by Canada?”

 

Before going out into society, please look at a map and understand your state’s borders, waterways, and layout.

5. Don’t touch me in any way after just meeting me.  Again, I don’t know why I even have to put this, but apparently it needs to be said. Seriously dude, we just met, why on earth are you A. touching me B. trying to hold my hand and C. telling me you want to never let go? No means no, in all accords. Please stop touching me. Stop touching me. STOP TOUCHING ME.

6. Don’t tell me you’re going to kill me. I wish this were a joke. When I couldn’t take this date anymore, I faked getting sick in the bathroom of the restaurant so I could leave. He asked to follow me home (uh, HELL NO) and then tried to kiss me after I just told him I threw up. Then, as I started walking away, he says,

“I better see you again or I’ll kill you.”

WHAT. THE. HELL. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! Did you just say that to me within an hour of meeting me?! You don’t say that to someone after knowing them for years. Now I am really fearing for my life. I purposely took a roundabout way home, cutting through suburban neighborhoods, checking in my rearview mirror to make sure this person wasn’t following me, and talking on the phone to my parents.

7. Don’t text/call me incessantly. I had just pulled out of the parking lot (who am I kidding, bolted out of there) when I started receiving multiple texts from Johnny Crazy Ass, saying the following,

 “Are you okay? I really should have followed you home.”

“I am so worried about you.”

“Did you like me?”

“I think you’re amazing.” 

“FML I just passed two cops!!!”

After not responding, he then started calling me. I had to block his phone number through my cellular company. He must have realized what I had done, because then he started calling me from his house phone. I had to block that number, too. Thankfully, he ran out of devices to call me from, because Verizon only allows 6 blocked numbers per account.

Needless to say, I am no longer on this dating website. I was willing to give the whole online dating thing a try. I was hoping to prove that online dating isn’t crazy and meet a good guy who could potentially be the guy I married. But it is crazy. I don’t know why people subject themselves to this type of torture. I learned my lesson, and I hope that by reading what I went through, you might save yourself from a painful experience like mine.

&&&   Kate has known Lisa since they were too young and innocent to be ranting and raising concerns, aside from their third grade teacher’s inability to spell. Lisa is a Social Media Specialist who lives, works, and now avoids online dating sites in the Detroit metro area.