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It seemed that the trial of Jerry Sandusky and the child abuse case at Pennsylvania State University was behind us and the state of people’s minds was that everyone involved is responsible. However, the community is pushing for a new Joe Paterno statue on the campus.

Two years ago, news broke that Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials covered up knowledge that former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, had been sexually abusing children in the team’s locker rooms in order to protect the university’s reputation. Paterno originally stated that he would retire at the end of the season, but the Penn State Board of Trustees rejected his offer and fired him effective immediately.

On July 23, 2012, the NCAA vacated all of Penn State’s wins from 1998 to 2011, instituted a 4-year bowl ban, and penalized the university $60 million (the equivalent to one season’s revenue total).

This penalty moved Joe Paterno from the winningest coach in NCAA football history to 12th on the list. Paterno died of complications from lung cancer on January 22, 2012, only two months after his firing.

When construction workers tore down the Paterno statue two years ago, there was a riot by the students in favor of the beloved coach. There were those who felt that his accomplishments on the football field trumped his mistakes behind the scenes. Those that felt his wins were more important than the lives that were affected because of his negligence.

Two alumni have received permission to install a $300,000 life sized statue two miles downtown from the original statue on campus. The statue will show Paterno sitting on a bench reading the Latin epic poem, Aeneid, by Virgil, written between 29 and 19 BCE. It is hoped to be installed by fall of next year.

Ted Sebastianelli, one of the programs organizers, said that it is clear the university isn’t ready to do anything regarding the statue, but that he feels that he can take it upon himself to honor the coach of 61 years.

It is scientifically proven that people turn a blind eye to the flaws of the person that they are in love with. Fans do the same thing with people who bring success to their favorite sports team.

People have forgotten about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case in 2003 and Ray Lewis’s murder case in 2000, following Super Bowl XXXIV. Penn State fans are going through this same phase with Joe Paterno.

Although Paterno was not directly involved with the crimes, he knowingly allowed them to continue. Bullying awareness and prevention programs state that people who witness bullying and do not make any attempt to stop it are as guilty as the bully themselves. Paterno is as guilty as Sandusky in this case based off of the FBI investigation.

Sports are something that can bring people together and create a sense of pride. American Meb Keflezighi of the United States winning the Boston Marathon this week a year after the bombing at the finish line created a great sense of national pride. UConn football beating Notre Dame on the road in two overtimes after cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed and killed on the UConn campus brought great pride to the state of Connecticut.

Paterno is the greatest coach in the history of college football. However, the way that he allowed children to be in danger should trump all of his accomplishments. Penn State should never replace the statue of Paterno.

Sports don’t build character, they reveal it, and Paterno was clearly lacking in that aspect.


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