The ongoing and ever deepening scandal at Penn State is really shaping up to be one for the ages. There are so many dynamics going on in this story, that it is difficult to know where to start. This is also a hotly debated topic almost everywhere, and it seems everyone has an opinion on the matter. As I discuss this with those close to me, we seem to come to more of a consensus about a couple of topics with the idea of football and sports and how they have taken a near deity level in this country. Then there is the point of personal responsibility and what should have occurred.
There are many now coming out of the woodwork that want to point how coach Paterno has or had a near deity status at College Station. There seems to be no doubt that the Coach has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the young men he has coached over his 46 year career. And it is no surprise that many alumni and family members of these players are very grateful, and are demonstrating this gratitude by getting behind Coach Paterno and showing their support. So, it was a great shock that most of the Penn State students, Alumni and fans felt when hearing of the abrupt firing of this coach, and anger came out in many different ways.
The question is, how far can gratitude remove one from the responsibility of dealing with real life issues and matters that are of utmost importance? Or on an even larger scale, how often do sports figures get a ‘free pass’ on all sorts of behaviors because they are famous and ‘well liked”? It seems many have allowed athletes and elite sports programs a great deal of leeway when it concerns matters of morals and questionable practices. It has been this way for decades, and it possibly has now finally run its course. The extent of this abuse will come out in the coming weeks and months, and it may ultimately result in long prison terms for several of these once hallowed individuals who ultimately chose football over what was right and moral.
Many have been debating whether Coach Paterno did enough concerning this case. While it is a fair question, and will be debated most likely forever, there ought to be more focus on the graduate student/assistant manager Mike McQueary, who upon witnessing this event, evidently did nothing to stop this while it was occurring. Despite the fact there will be lots of blame to go around, it is Mr. McQueary’s lack of actions that keep coming back to me as the most disturbing aspect of this whole story.
Mr. McQueary claims he happened upon the coach and a 10 year old boy in the shower while putting away equipment from a practice. One would find it hard to believe that Mr. McQueary, upon seeing this most disgusting and criminal activity, that he did not make some effort to intervene. If this graduate student was fearful of being thrown out of the program, he could at least have shut the lights off, indicating someone had walked in, and most likely this horrible event would have stopped. Most people would have been so incensed, that they most likely would have beat the pulp out of this very sick assistant coach, and the majority of people would have supported this action. But Mr. McQueary did nothing, and simply reported it to the head coach, who did not witness this first hand. If anyone is most responsible for this particular action going nowhere, it is Mr. McQueary. As a direct witness, it is Mr. McQueary who had the most responsibility to report this, and he did not. Yet he remains on staff and continues to coach. This is the greatest injustice of the whole matter.
This man knew about this situation for nearly nine years, and only when it becomes public, does Mr. McQueary ‘grow a set’ and demonstrate anger. It is disingenuous, and Mr. McQueary should do the right thing, and resign from his position. Whatever his excuse is for not reporting this, it cannot justify the continued employment at the same location in which Mr. McQueary demonstrated gross negligence. This happens too often in our society: people getting a free pass when they ought to be held accountable for sins of omission.
Mr. McQueary, if you have any sense of decency, you should resign immediately. Don’t be putting out any disingenuous emotions of anger, when you sat on this for nine years. Do the right thing and get out now.