The Stink At Penn State

November 9th, 2011 by Jane Heller

Photo: Getty Images

I was planning to write something about how Posada should retire rather than sit by the phone hoping for the Yankees to call. But then he told reporters that he wasn’t expecting the call and, in fact, had interest from a few other teams. Whatever.

The Yankees became a non-story for me when the TV coverage of the Penn State mess became tonight’s big news. I don’t follow football, college or otherwise, and the name Joe Paterno was simply that to me: a name. But after the announcement that the legendary coach had been canned, along with the university’s president, and that the students were pouring out onto the streets professing their love for Paterno and/or chanting for him to come back…

Well. Talk about ugliness.

I’m still processing how the horrors could go on at that place for all those years without anybody doing anything – and how the students, as much as they revere Paterno, could actually be whining for him to be reinstated.

There are times when I hate the culture of sports, and this is one of them.


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10 Responses to “The Stink At Penn State”

  1. Melissa says:

    Why is it so upsetting to people when a football coach is sacked for shielding a pedophile, but when a bishop does it, they cry “off with his head”? Allowing this behavior to continue is just plain wrong.

    It’s also sad that these students can get so motivated by the firing of a coach when there are so many real issues in the world to protest – like, protecting pedophiles so an institution’s reputation isn’t tarnished, for example.

  2. John says:

    Another example of an “old boys” society protecting their own. First it was the Bishops protecting their subordinates now it’s the University president and the icon coach protecting the buddy/assistant. Just when you think this sickness can’t get any worse it hits a new low.

    This is going to get even uglier as more details emerge. The student demonstration isn’t surprising but the knee jerk support will erode when more facts are disclosed.

    I pray for the victims.

  3. Ruth says:

    How that coach (not Paterno) could have witnessed what he did in the shower (in his own words in grand jury testimony) and not be haunted with nightmares on a daily basis is beyond me, not to mention he went on knowing that Sandusky was still roaming the campus. Scary, disgusting, sad.

    Off-topic: Prayers for Will Ramos, Nationals Catcher, who has been kidnapped. Hoping for his safe return.

  4. margaret says:


    It’s only going to get uglier. After I heard on the news that the FBI is now involved in the cover up there will be ugly information coming at us for weeks.

    And kidnapping Will Ramos. What the heck? Being in Nats territory been hearing it alot yet no real information. What the hell is going on?

  5. Jane Heller says:

    I had the same thought about the “protestors,” Melissa – if that’s really what they were. (I think some were fired up about Paterno and others may have decided it was a good time to get drunk and parade around in front of the TV cameras.) They could be demonstrating about student loans or Occupy Wall Street or something that means something – or how about a protest of the way their school was so dismissive of the victims of these atrocities. Ugh.

    You’re right, John – it will get uglier. I dread it. And if these students are upset now, wait until Penn State starts drowning under the legal ramifications, not to mention the scandal.

    Scary, disgusting and sad are the adjectives I feel too, Ruth. And yes, awful story about Ramos being kidnapped. Great world we wake up to, right?

    The only info I heard about Ramos before I went to bed last night, Peg, was that he was taken from his home of Venezuela. I don’t know any more than that. The price of fame in these Latin American countries is so high. No wonder they all have guards at their houses – or should.

  6. Bob Cerv says:

    Hang on, and warm up your rebuttals and indignant tut-tuts. Because here I go.

    My heart has been aching for days about this. You folks, scattered all over the USA as you are, may not know or care a fig about Penn State or the Nittany Lions. And I’ve never so much as set foot on campus. But I’ve lived here long enough to know many alumni and parents of students/alumni and hear about their many trips to State College and how very much JoePa and his football program meant to all of them.

    My heart aches first, of course, for the horror thrown on those boys. Of course. As my wife keeps insisting, they HAD to get rid of Paterno, ASAP. And the president too. Stop the bleeding. And they MUST make McQueary step down also (that’s the name of the asst. coach who allegedly witnessed the shower rape in ’02). People in the know say that McQueary’s ascent in the coaching ranks has been very unusually rapid and mysterious, and it reeks of some favoritism for keeping this incident quiet. Maybe so.

    But my heart also aches for all those students, and all the many many alumni. This is…this was…their PRIDE. We are all Yankee fans, or professional baseball fans, and we love our team(s). But when you go to a major university that has a MAJOR and successful sports program — and I did too — it is very VERY close to your heart. Yes, yes…you should take pride in your school for 1000 other things, not a sports team, but let’s try to be honest here. You see them on the field, or the court, and you often say to yourself, I was there once. I’ve been on that field. I knew players personally. It’s part of your fabric. And now, it’s all been RIPPED APART in the space of ONE WEEK. It will never EVER be the same again. Maybe if you were happily married, or so you thought, and one day you walked in on your spouse cheating on you…I guess that’s a fair analogy. But otherwise…can you relate to this, or am I just ranting again? Don’t know.

    Having said all this…understand, I’m not sympathizing with Paterno, or with any coaches, or any of that. Just the innocent victims — which includes the boys AND the players AND the students AND the alumni. Maybe now you’ll understand why many of them were out on the street last night, and they caused some violence (not condoned at all, but understood in the context. Their world is upside down).

    No room/time to talk about Ramos. Abducted by gunpoint into a van by a gang of four. One of the Nats’ brightest young stars. He may not survive. This is a very very upsetting day.

  7. Jane Heller says:

    Dave, I think your analogy of a marriage is a good one and I get where you’re coming from in terms of betrayal. But when you walk in on a cheating spouse, you get angry at the spouse (or his/her companion), not the institution of marriage. Growing up means accepting that your heroes aren’t perfect. Begging Paterno to come back and going to his house and saying he was treated unfairly – and having him shrug at his front door and say, “Oh, well, it wasn’t my choice and pray A LITTLE for the victims” – and directing so much anger at the board of trustees having no clue what they’re up against seems very immature. I know how much pride they took in their team and their school, but their rage is entirely misdirected, in my opinion.

  8. Bob Cerv says:

    Fair commentary, Jane. Sorry for getting semi-emotional; that’s why it’s so good to get truly impartial, far-away observations on this. It’s not easy. For example, my office co-worker, Philly Karl’s wife, “bleeds Penn State blue.” They have season tickets and go to 3-4 games a year. Now she may never go again. So it is more personal around here.
    The students (of course they’re immature; they’re students) were saying that the wrong guy got punished — what about the monster Sandusky? And McQueary too? But I disagree about exonerating the coach, beloved as he was. JoePa made terrible mistakes. Yes, he’s almost 85, but they came to him 7 years ago and asked him to step down, and he refused. The choices you make, you must live with.

  9. Sue says:

    Been tied up with other stuff the past few days, and so only now am catching up and reading this post. I am a Penn Stater (though I decline to say exactly how long ago I graduated ;-) ). I have been refraining from saying much of anything about this mess because I know that no matter what I say, someone I know will have the complete opposite opinion and end up offended, mad, etc. My poor husband is the one who has to listen to my rantings and ramblings, and he’s not a PSU grad. And it’s hard to formulate an opinion right now anyway, with so many conflicting emotions swirling around. Shock, anger, confusion, disappointment, etc. What I think changes day to day. Those who didn’t attend Penn State (or any other large university with a rabid alumni/fanbase) don’t realize how much your school becomes a part of who you are, even years later. I sort of feel this is why so many alums are angry and upset over the way much of it was handled, and at the way the media is portraying it – they are saying bad things about my school, therefore by extension they are saying bad things about me. And the flipside – how could such a horrible thing happen where I went to school? They take it very personally. Sorry this is a little disjointed, still trying to work through it all.

  10. Jane Heller says:

    It must be difficult to try to sort it all out, Sue. Your school IS a part of who you are. I’m afraid though that the saga is just getting started and you’re in for a rocky road. There’s a stain on the school, no question, because its leadership (or at least some of its leadership) looked the other way when they should have taken action. That said, I don’t think anyone should paint with a broad brush and take away all the wonderful things you love about being a Penn Stater.