Joanna Schroeder asserts that Paterno’s name will forever represent the ways in which you don’t have to be the abuser to be guilty of harming children.
In light of the Freeh report, which details the numerous ways in which Paterno and others at Penn State University ignored the many signs of horrific abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky on their own campus, Nike has decided to drop Paterno’s name from the company’s child care center.
Newser quotes Nike founder Phil Knight:
“Joe influenced thousands of young men to become better leaders, fathers and husbands,” he said. But “according to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains.”
I didn’t know what “I missed that Joe missed it” meant exactly so I did a little research and found this quote from Knight at Paterno’s memorial service, offered by ESPN’s Big Ten Blogger Brian Bennett:
“Whatever the details of the investigation, this much is clear to me: If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno’s response,” Knight said. He later earned roaring cheers by listing Paterno’s accomplishments and then asking, “Who is the real trustee at Penn State University?”
Bennett explains that Knight’s statement always made him uneasy and concludes with this: “It’s understandable that Knight revered JoePa and wanted to honor his legend. But his remarks in January went too far, and now he has had to sheepishly retreat from them.”
I think we can all agree that it’s a truly sad day. But for those of us observing from the outside, it is merely one sad day, or perhaps a sad year of revelations regarding PSU and Sandusky. For the survivors of Sandusky’s crime, it is many many years of sadness on top of unimaginable pain. We need to remember this, as a culture, and take individual responsibility for the children in our lives and what happens to them.
My hope is that the Freeh report, the conviction of Jerry Sandusky, the nation’s outpouring of support and love for the survivors, and hopefully further action taken against PSU will show survivors of abuse, particularly male survivors, that their lives matter to us, and that we as a society will stand by them and do our best to prevent other children from having to endure what they did.
Paterno’s name will forever represent the ways in which you don’t have to be the abuser to be guilty of harming children.