Your Monday Reality Check: Cult of Paterno still dangerously strong

July 16, 2012 | Glenn Clark

In recent weeks I’ve avoided going down the path of calling for the death penalty for PSU football or saying the NCAA should force the school to not play football for at least a year. I said I would wait until the release of the Freeh report to make any sort of definitive statement. The release of the report confirmed what we thought we already knew. Paterno (as well as other high level administrators at Penn State) either knew or had significant reason to believe Sandusky was participating in behavior that was at least indecent if not wholly criminal with young boys. Their action in response was minimal, failing to protect future victims from a monster.

(Members of the Cult of Paterno will tell you there was no evidence produced that proved Paterno and company acted that way because they were trying to protect the football program as Louis Freeh claimed. Freeh is the former director of the FBI so I’m inclined to accept his findings as fact. I’m also not a part of the cult. Of course, even the members of the Cult of Paterno have no response to the findings that the administrators had total disregard for the Federal Clery Act.)

Since the release of the Report, I’ve decided to go a certain direction with my commentary about Penn State. I am willing to listen to the Cult of Paterno members (and other Nittany Lions fans) who say the school shouldn’t be forced to stop playing football because they’ve already moved on from the Sandusky era. They point out that almost all members of Paterno’s staff are gone and that the school has learned from the events of the last 15 years and has put in place standards to prevent such activity from ever happening again.

My willingness to listen however stems directly from the belief that if Penn State is truly to have claimed they have moved on from an ugly, tragic era they will also choose to not celebrate it or attempt to benefit from it ever again.

For example, the school will stop selling any merchandise related to Paterno. There will be no more t-shirts, banners or pillows sold to profit off of the name Paterno. The introduction video at the next football game won’t be about the legacy of Penn State football under Paterno. The letterhead on the next press release won’t refer to the accomplishments of the former coach.

And yes, the fans who choose to attend games at Beaver Stadium won’t walk by a statue of a man who protected a monster.

But if the Cult of Paterno can’t accept that, then they need to have football taken away from them. They need to take a timeout from football to understand that life is much more significant. If they need to keep celebrating Paterno and the accomplishments of a culture that valued football over protecting children they can’t just move on.

If they can’t understand the gravity of the situation, they can’t be allowed to just move on. The problem is-of course-that’s exactly what they want to do. They just want to get to their next football game to be reminded that everything is okay.

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