“If men like Paterno are our gods, if football is our religion,” Megan Rosker writes, “then we have just sacrificed our children on the alter of the nine-yard line.”
Protecting our kids is simple. Navigating the tides of public opinion on how we should protect our kids is not so simple. The truth is, however, that as adults and parents we know how to keep our kids safe. We don’t need to rely on a body of laws or a panel of experts to tell us what to do. It is the exception, not the rule, that a parent cannot properly protect and care for their offspring.
And this brings me to the few words I have to say about the Penn State scandal. While the events that transpired among the coaching staff and the eight young boys was tragic, once the transgressions had been uncovered, any further harm to any other children was preventable. Not only because we have laws and rules and jails and therapy to help us deal with such grave offenses, but because we are hard-wired to care for our kids.
As fathers, as coaches to young men, as leaders of their community they have let us all down by refusing to lead when the time came. Their leadership on the football field will matter little compared to the duty that was asked of them when they knew children were in harm’s way. When an adult sees a child, any child, being injured, we know the right thing to do. We get that child out of harm’s ways. It is done immediately and permanently.
These men have failed us. Despite their greatness in the sport of football, if we allow their legendary status to over shadow what they have allowed to transpire, we are the fools. We are not leading. We are not protecting our children. Instead we only pave the road for future abuses of power to transpire.
This should be heeded as a wake up call to parents. Not in order to breed further paranoia and fear about allowing our children to participate in the community, but we must begin to realize that it is our lack of action that is our greatest threat. We must unleash our innate desire to punish those who harm children. We must not be afraid of this most basic instinct. Parenting and leading are not a philosophical, theoretical, politically correct debate. It requires one to act from the instinct to care and protect, one that is bred in all of us. It is pure insanity for there to be any discussion when a child is being abused. The only thing that is needed in that moment is action. Action to lead. Action to care. Action to protect.
Action is needed now. Send these men to prison. Make an example of them for all those who toy with the idea of abusing their power. Send the message that this will not be tolerated by our society.
We need to get back to the basics of raising our families, leading our communities and championing the futures of our children. They are our greatest asset and the actions we take now are the fabric of their future. We raise them with each guided or misguided step that we take.
The Penn State football legacy has become the workings of gods, rather than of mortals. Built into every religion is the understanding of the all powerful, all knowing and untouchable god. Now we find ourselves confused and uncomfortable punishing our modern day gods as mere humans. If we are going to raise mortal men up to the status of gods, we should not be surprised when they fall as far as we have raised them. Instead of caring for these young boys, the coaches of PSU protected their idol god of sports at the cost of our children.
Paterno has said we should pray for these boys. At this point he is probably best served praying for himself. His statement reeks of his belief that he and his fellow coaches are above the law. He has admitted nothing, won’t speak to the public. He seems unwilling to come down from the mountain, walk among the people and offer comfort or explanation to those who allowed him to be the god he is today. The Boston Herald called him a “control freak”. I see a man with an enormous god complex, one that we allowed him to have, one that we turned a blind eye to as long as the fairy tale Penn State legacy was kept intact. If men like Paterno are our gods, if football is our religion, then we have just sacrificed our children on the alter of the nine-yard line.
There is no man or woman above the simple truth that nothing comes above treating our children with only the deepest care and respect. The person who can allow children to lay down in sacrifice for the bounty and prosperity of adult accomplishments, is a detriment to our society and should be made an example of for all the world to see that above all else we care and value the lives and futures of our children. To us and in our society nothing matters more.