First and foremost, I want to say how incredibly sad I am for the victims of Jerry Sandusky. I cannot even imagine the pain, suffering, mental anguish, and heartache they have gone through. I wanted to state this upfront because I feel like they have been lost in the media's witch hunt, and I want to make sure they are not lost in my post.
Fall Saturday afternoons always meant Penn State football in the Spaventa house, no questions asked. As a young girl, I would sit next to my dad and watch as JoePa ran onto the field with his players decked out in their simple blue and white uniforms. In my hometown, you either went to Penn State or knew friends and family who did. Penn State is a way of life where I grew up.
I have several close friends who went to Penn State and we constantly banter over who went to the better school. As much as I claim I dislike PSU, I will always have a special place for the school in my heart.
When the tragedy occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007, the Penn State community rushed to support us in our time of need. Their famed student section created a VT at their Spring Game and students wore t-shirts with the Nittany Lion in VT's orange and maroon.
The comfort Penn State offered my school has stayed fresh in my mind these past few years. My heart honestly aches for Penn State. I can't imagine the confusion, shock, and pain alumni, students, and faculty must feel right now, as I struggle with a muted version of what they must be going through.
I have a piece of advice for the Penn State community: Get away from the television and stop reading articles, blog posts, etc. The media will make the pill of this scandal so much harder to swallow. Remember that the media's job is to sell stories. They do not care that they are belittling something that you hold so true and dear to your heart. You know what Penn State stands for. Do not let them hurt you even more than you are already hurting.
Those of you who are bashing Penn State need to stop. Sandusky's actions are beyond deplorable and I hope justice is served tenfold. The other men involved should have done more and should be ashamed of themselves for letting a monster roam free for years. As for the students who rioted, they are immature kids who don't understand the immensity of this situation. Let me put it to you this way, judging Penn State based on the people mentioned above would be like judging America based on the people involved with Occupy Wall Street. I for one do not associate myself with those in that movement, but still consider myself very much an American.
Penn State is so much more than this scandal. I have read several Facebook posts and articles, which discuss the hit PSU's reputation is going to take. While I agree that Penn State will suffer for some time because of this, I don't think the school is ruined.
So many outsiders claim that Penn State is only about football. I wholeheartedly disagree. Does THON ring a bell? Last year's THON raised over $7.8 million to aid the fight against pediatric cancer. Penn State is also consistently ranked as one of the top 15 public universities. Football is a big part of the school, but it in no way defines PSU.
I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and take a step back. I am having extreme déjà vu, as I watch the media persecute Penn State and lose sight of so many crucial points in this tragedy:
1. The children who have lost their innocence and dignity forever at the hands of a pervert have barely been mentioned. They should be the focal point in this whole sad story and they are not. Why have they been forgotten?
2. Yes, JoePa and the other Penn State officials should have done more. Unfortunately, they got what they deserved, as they abdicated their moral duty and responsibility. However, the media circus was not necessary and just as reprehensible. In addition, I am at a loss as to why we are hearing more about what Paterno did wrong than Sandusky. I find it interesting that on Tuesday, most in the media said that we needed to wait to hear more facts. Once JoePa's press conference was cancelled and the media did not have a story, they lit torches and pulled out their pitchforks and went after him Wednesday … no sense having all that media sitting around in State College doing nothing, right?
3. Why aren't the parents of the abused children being held accountable? Sandusky's Second Mile offers children a "second chance" because their parents could not give them a proper childhood. If these parents had done their jobs (parenting) to begin with, these poor children would have never been put in a compromised position. Parenting is an honor and these parents lost sight of that and their biggest responsibility in life. Why are they getting a free pass from the media and so many people?
I am having a hard time dissecting all of my thoughts and feelings on this scandal, but I find it maddening how people are jumping to conclusions when we truly do not know all of the facts. Most of us are also adults and have forgotten the golden rule, "Judge not lest ye be judged." ESPN recently interviewed Bill Curry and he said something that really stuck out to me,
"Nobody is pure as the driven snow. Whoever has been perfect in these kinds of things when you have learned of something, did you always do exactly the right thing? Probably not. Most of us, 99% of us, are not perfect. Well, 100% are not perfect, but we have all got things we can look back and think right now, 'Gee, I should have done something different here or there.'"
I will be the first to raise my hand and say I am not perfect, so I am ready and willing to hear all of the facts before I pass judgement. Also, last time I checked, America abides by the "innocent until proven guilty" standard and not the "off with their heads" mentality the media has been perpetrating.
I hope and pray that the victims get the justice they so desperately deserve. Hopefully this justice gives them some sort of solace and they can begin to piece their lives back together.
To the Penn State community, stay strong and united. Do not let these actions define the school you all love so much. YOU are Penn State, not a few people's poor decisions. Much like Virginia Tech, you will come out of these dark days better and stronger than ever before.