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Old 11-09-2011, 10:02 PM   #91
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The latter, of course. These kids have no concern for children, or justice, or responsibility. Life is football to them.

I almost chose them to do my Masters program. Glad I didn't. Get me as far away from that place as I can.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:04 PM   #92
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Seriously, I've lost faith in humanity now. I give up.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:04 PM   #93
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I am sure you are safe, the guy is like 80,
you could easily outrun him.
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:05 AM   #94
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Is anyone watching the news right now, particularly CNN?

The students of Penn State are protesting against Joe Paterno's dismissal. I hope I am misinterpreting what I am seeing on the screen, but it really looks like that. Don't these kids realize that Paterno was part of the cover up of Sandusky raping young boys? Or all they care about is Penn State sports?
A science teacher at my high school got caught videotaping women in their homes through their windows and people were upset because he was such a good baseball coach....
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:47 AM   #95
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There are twitter updates going out right now that this guy used his charity/camp to pimp out kids to wealthy donors.

I don't think this is done.
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:15 PM   #96
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Just yesterday morning I was saying to some of my students what a great thing it was how much the culture in general, and institutional culture in particular, has changed during my lifetime in terms of recognition that sexual predators are usually familiar, trusted authority figures to their victims; that coverups and second chances for them are an utterly odious and perverse form of corruption; that young people today seem to have an automatic, visceral zero-tolerance response to both the above and a strong self-empowered attitude that they don't owe perpetrators of either wrong the "respect" of giving them any pass whatsoever.

Well, I wouldn't say I was wrong...but still it was pretty disheartening to watch what unfolded last night. I've spent more than half my life now on a college campus, and I've seen my fair share on a more minor scale of misguided students rallying around some well-liked campus figure who unfortunately did something very wrong and paid the price, but never anything quite like this. What happened? Was this about Paterno, the legendary football coach, being some kind of father figure whom 'we' can't allow to be tainted by what happened on his watch? Or more of a tribalistic response, where no one but 'us' is allowed to suggest there might be a bit more rot at hand than just the cut-and-dried crimes of one loathsome individual? Both? Whatever, those students (and it was a minority of them to be sure, but far too many to be dismissed as fringe) unfortunately managed to take a story that no one thought was about them and hand a lot of people on the outside a reason to allege that, well, maybe, in some measure actually it is.

It'll blow over shortly, for them and for the school's academic reputation at least; no good reason for any stigma there to last. But that was a sad night.
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Old 11-10-2011, 03:38 PM   #97
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I went to a high school like that, where football was king-well all athletics and nothing else mattered.

I was disgusted by those students who went to Paterno's house and the ones last night. By that age you should know what's morally right and wrong, and at this point it seems like what Joe Paterno did and didn't do was morally wrong..to say the least. He protected himself and his football program, not children. Obviously those students represent a small minority of students at Penn State, but WAKE UP. I wish some students there would have a rally in support of his firing and in support of the victims. I've heard people say it's as if they are brainwashed and it is. Those students are acting as if Joe Paterno is some sort of victim.

It's almost like some sort of cult and he's been elevated to God status.
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Old 11-10-2011, 03:50 PM   #98
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I know in the States college sports are huge compared to over here where no one really cares how well the football or lacrosse team are doing, but do the sports departments of colleges really hold a great deal of sway over the rest of the college?
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Old 11-10-2011, 03:53 PM   #99
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do the sports departments of colleges really hold a great deal of sway over the rest of the college?
I would guess in certain colleges without a doubt yes, and that it also has to do with the $$$ that it generates.
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Old 11-10-2011, 04:12 PM   #100
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Sounds like a fairly severe corruption of what are meant to be academic institutions, and the students who rioted sound like they lack a great deal of self awareness. There's always more to come out in these types of cases, as has already been alluded to. We do hit some lows as a species.
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Old 11-13-2011, 12:19 PM   #101
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^^ I found this one of the better op-eds I've seen (from a PSU alumnus and journalist) attempting to explain "the cult of Penn State" as she puts it.

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 13
Quote:
I grew up in central Pennsylvania, steeped in the myth of Penn State football. I was 4 when I learned the alma mater. By the time I was 10, I knew every player's number and name. Every Saturday that there was a home game, we'd drive an hour from our tiny town "over the mountain," as my father called it, and sit high in the stands, in rain, snow or autumn sunshine. We'd do this cheer: "We are! Penn State!" The stadium would thunder. My parents had not even gone to college, but they'd yell it until their throats ached. Often, my mother would bring along her rosary beads.

"Worship" is not a strong enough word for the way we felt about Joe Paterno. Our regard for him was unquestioning. For one thing, he was Italian, like my mother. But the main thing, in our eyes, was that he was "classy." That was the word my parents used, always. The coach never bragged. He never gloated. He didn't put up with undignified antics. He made sure his players got a good education, like his, and were set for a life beyond football. This was no small thing. That part of the country was, even then, nobody's job magnet, and as the years passed, the university only became more dominant as an economic engine. Penn State was the way to success, and, we felt, there was no greater success than to end up like Paterno—good family, good work ethic, accomplishment in something of value. And Penn State football was very much "of value." It could lift a young man up and out from a place like ours to a finer life and destination, and turn him into the kind of person we each wanted to be.

So I went to Penn State when I graduated from my small, rural high school. My parents were overjoyed. When I brought home a football player my freshman year, they were so thrilled that they took him on vacation with us. He was a second stringer who knew he'd never play professional sports, but he nonetheless felt that Paterno had changed his life forever. My parents treated him with a deference that didn't surprise me. That was how it was—the Nittany Lions were royalty.

Then, the year I turned 20, I started asking questions. One night, my roommate—a wisecracking scholarship kid from Philadelphia—asked me why the "white people around here" were so hung up on some game played by "no-neck blockheads." I tried to explain about Paterno and class and character in sports and what it all meant. She just rolled her eyes. I tried to shake off the conversation, but her words vexed me. Who did she think she was, anyway? This was an institution. How dare she disrespect it? There were good guys and bad guys. A right way and a wrong way. And if you could question the rightness of this one excellent thing we had all believed in forever, what else might you question? Where else might true colors shade to gray?

But the seed had been planted. Suddenly I couldn't stop noticing my own deference to athletes—the way I'd overlook the superior attitude they took around my male friends who weren't athletic, the way they got dibs on the easy classes while the rest of us pulled all-nighters and never complained. The way I'd listen, rapt, to their sports homilies, like a geisha. I began to distance myself from football. I started hanging around with pre-med students, pot smokers, Young Republicans, kids who majored in economics, kids of other ethnicities, foreign kids. It dawned on me that Penn State had whole other facets, that maybe I had been missing out on what it really meant to be part of a university. One day, a new friend—an artistic kid whose parents lived, of all places, in California—casually questioned the community's reverence for sports, and something snapped in me. I told my parents I wouldn't be needing my season tickets. We got into a blistering argument, and I think I said something about no longer believing in "the cult of football." I remember feeling, as I spoke up, that this was an act of betrayal, not to football, exactly, but to a worldview that was dear to people who had lifted me up to a possibility of a finer life and finer destinations. For years afterward, I couldn't hear the voice of a sports announcer without feeling that I had rejected something I could never get back, that I had gone over the mountain and returned, classless, to despise my loved ones' ideals.

More than three decades have passed since I left Pennsylvania. I live, of all places, in California now. I have tried, this week, to explain to friends here how good people could be so blinded by loyalty that unspeakable acts might transpire, right before them, and still feel unable to ask the obvious questions. I've tried to explain my own mixed feelings to myself. Yes, I have told them, Paterno really was a great coach. Yes, he really did force kids to study for hours every night in the library, where he and his assistants could track them down. Yes, he really did change the lives of his players. And yes, as the decades passed, the belief in the essential superiority of the man and his program really did grow to the point that it ceased to be a good thing, to the point that maybe even he was afraid to wonder about it, lest the gray areas take on a life of their own.

Back home, my friends and relatives are heartsick. Those poor children, they say. That poor old Italian man, so frail now in his doorway, so seemingly betrayed by the sick underling that everyone suddenly seems to have forgotten. How could this have happened? Did they not know good guys from bad guys? What became of that excellent thing we had all believed in forever?

So many questions. It's hard to ask questions. But that's what happens when something forces you to see clearly. You open your eyes, and there you are—over the mountain, where nothing will ever look the same.
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Old 11-13-2011, 04:56 PM   #102
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Thanks Yolland that does help to put it into a bit more context. It's amazing how much faith we can place in something so arbitrary. Just a wonder but are their other universities in the US which have Paterno like figures? Is the emphasis on sports only present in some universities or is it something common across them all?
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:42 PM   #103
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I'm not a huge college sports aficionado nor have I ever lived in PA, so I'm not the best person to ask. I guess I'd say in some ways what she describes is definitely representative of "the college experience" at a significant minority of major US universities, while in other ways PSU is probably pretty unique. I don't think there's anyone else in college sports quite like Paterno, both because of his unprecedentedly long tenure as PSU's coach (46 years, plus 16 years as assistant coach prior) and because of the central role he played in PSU's transformation from a sleepy agricultural school to a highly-regarded major university (football success = big $$$ from rich alums and other donors, plus Paterno himself donated large sums of money to PSU over the decades, including for academic facilities). I'd also be hard-pressed to name many other colleges where the football program "made" the school *to the degree* it has PSU ("made" meaning that without it, it'd probably today be "just" a decent liberal arts college, but nothing locally, let alone nationally, highly regarded, or imparting any special cachet to its graduates)...Notre Dame perhaps?, and probably a few others. Nevertheless, there are, I dunno, maybe a couple dozen current and/or recent "football powerhouse" schools--usually, but not always, large public colleges--whose teams enjoy an exceptionally large and fanatical following regionally and (through alumni) nationally, as well as the benefits to the university associated with that--a nice fat endowment, and an aura of success and "community" ("We are Penn State!") that makes them especially attractive to many prospective college students. And even schools whose football programs have historically been quite mediocre--which usually makes them money-losers for the school--often feel they have to keep investing a lot in maintaining a competitive football program anyway, because rich alumni/donors basically demand it.

I don't know how many US colleges have football teams--a few hundred through to, maximum, several hundred maybe?, if you count up all the divisions--whereas we have roughly 4500 colleges total. So "the emphasis on sports," including football, is definitely not "common across them all." That said, the fact that US colleges vary hugely in size (enrollment) and type makes it difficult to be precise about how representative "the emphasis on sports" is--for example, 40% of our college students are enrolled in community colleges, which are mostly 2-year schools emphasizing vocational education and rarely have any sports programs; while meanwhile 4-year colleges (55% of our college students) run the gamut from tiny private schools with no more than a few hundred students to behemoth public campuses with more than 50,000.

Also keep in mind that college football is the feeder system for pro football here; there's no NFL minor league, and little reason for them to bother investing in one when colleges are willing for their own reasons to do the job for them.
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Old 11-13-2011, 10:17 PM   #104
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Paterno's iconic status goes well beyond Penn State campus--among people who've never attended Penn State, perhaps never even visited it. Certainly, it was the football. But it was more than that. It was St. Joe, the character builder. the man who would bench a star player if he was caught at an underage drinking party etc. It was the "clean" program. That was the image cultivated--now whether it was true up to Sandusky, I don't know. My family was die-hard Penn State (no one went there), die-hard Paterno, but I didn't have any interest in college football so knew the myth, but never did any fact checking. I think there is a sense of mourning for what people are just starting to come to terms with--a cracking illusion--an illusion I'm sure will be splintering even more over the next few weeks.

Over the entire week, the ONLY (no exaggeration) topic on local talk radio was Penn State/Paterno.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:38 AM   #105
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^ Yeah, the mythology surrounding Paterno (and by extension the school) does seem to me fairly unique; the way "We're famously great at football" becomes "We're famously great at football in a way that shows we're made of better stuff than everyone else." To be fair, there are numerous schools where football means something decidely more than just sport, and numerous colleges where a sense of being The Elect runs especially deep, including for non-athletic reasons.

It really is striking to me how reminiscent this case is of the 'pedophile priests' on many points...there were several cases of parishioners rallying en masse around priests who'd covered up for pedophiles, or even been convicted of molesting children themselves, and stridently defending them against "the media"; I also remember reading about a case where a priest subpoenaed as a witness admitted to having at one point walked in on the accused priest molesting a child--and backed quietly out and said nothing. More obviously of course, prioritizing defending the institution's reputation above children's welfare. Closed-off, rigidly hierarchical all-male groups surrounded by communities who take their authority and iconic status for granted (and often claim to find some kind of transcendence in doing so, perversely enough...then again we all do this to some degree) really do seem to be the most opportune environment for the worst forms of rot to set in and fester. And pedophiles are often 'charming,' accomplished individuals who seem 'especially devoted to helping children,' so might be if anything particularly easy to practice denial towards, despite perpetrating quite literally the most despised acts in our culture.

I was glad to read that a PA state representative plans to introduce a bill revising PA's child abuse reporting laws. Here in IN (and 17 other states), any adult with reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect is legally obligated to personally ensure it gets reported to either the police or our child protection services. This should be the standard everywhere, IMO; while in practice it'll never be fully enforced, at least you're not handing people excuses to (pardon the metaphor) pass or punt on what they might be afraid to confront.
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