Yesterday, Penn State played a game without Joe Paterno on the sidelines for the first time in over 40 years; and lost.
Players from both teams knelt in prayer before the game. Over 107,903 fans (the largest of the year) packed the stadium and cheered for Penn State University, the football team, and for Joe Paterno’s legacy.
But what about the victims?
Somewhere there are at least eight boys (young men now) who lost their innocence, and in some ways their lives, amid the roar of those 107,903 fans, Penn State University, and the legacy of Joe Paterno.
There should never have been a game.
The football field should have had eight white roses on the 50-yard line in a completely empty stadium.
We saw players and fans talking about Joe Paterno, many wearing shirts in support of “JoePa”. We saw teary-eyed coaches speak of the man and his legacy.
But who will speak for the victims?
All I can think about is eight boys who will never watch a Penn State football game – because they can’t and they won’t. All I can think about is a living-hell locker room that at least two boys lived through and will never forget.
Penn State’s new president said the following: “We wanted to demonstrate, not just in the Penn State community but to rest of world, that Penn State is a caring community” – Translation: “We wanted to demonstrate to the rest of the world, that Penn State is all about football- that’s why we played today”
Yesterday Penn State played a football game after at least three key members of the coaching staff, and a minimum of three high-level administrators covered up child rapes.
Yesterday Penn State showed the world what is important to Penn State – a winning football team.
Ironically, having a winning football team at all costs is why eight boys will struggle with depression, anger, hatred and dysfunction for their entire lives.
Yesterday Penn State played a football game while eight young men are struggling to understand why football and the power that comes with it are more important than their innocence and lives.
Yesterday Penn State continued the cycle of abuse.