If the Pope is infallible, college sports must be the supreme deity.
How else to explain the anger and defiance of students at Penn State who wanted their football coach, the legendary Joe Paterno, permitted to continue coaching despite having failed to move aggressively to thwart child sexual abuse?
The firing of Paterno came after former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year span. Some of the assaults were said to have occurred on the Penn State campus. Paterno had been alerted to the abuse, but failed to follow through with authorities to stop it and to question the alleged abuser. That might have been forgivable if the transgression was something more common in college sports—perhaps game-fixing or bribes to potential college athletes—but protecting someone who might have stolen the childhoods of numerous boys is not.
The Catholic Church was rocked by rampant reports of child sexual abuse by priests, with some of the allegations going back decades. As horrific as the abuse was, what made it worse was the fact that the priests were quietly moved to other dioceses where they could commit more heinous crimes. Child abusers are arguably sick. There is no excuse for an institution which should know better to protect or defend either the abusers or the people who tolerated it.
Paterno wasn't an active participant in the abuse, and surely he didn't condone it. But he failed to take enough action to stop it. Was it because such charges would embarrass the football-famous school? Is a tarnished image worse than failing to expose and halt a horrible crime against children? Sandusky in a Monday night television interview denied the charges, but in a meandering, creepy way that undercut his own message. "I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact," Sandusky told NBC. It took him a while to get to "no" when asked if he was sexually attracted to young boys.
Penn State students seem to be confused on the matter, demanding in a rally that Paterno be allowed to coach at least one more game. Penn State is an excellent academic institution, as well as a sports mecca. It's too bad some of the students haven't learned the meaning of accountability.