November 9, 2011

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

In my parent’s home and in many Midwestern homes, not much is more important than college sports.

Game day was never necessarily about this win or loss, it was always about the next one, or next season, or the next great quarterback Your team was good – all others were bad.
A multi-points victory over the Little Sisters of the Poor Division III football team was savored and proof that your team was the best.

While any loss to a real competitor like Notre Dame or Ohio State just proved what cheaters and losers that other school is. And that meant everything about the other universities was sub par. Why would anyone want to attend Ohio State or God forbid Notre Dame? It isn't enough that my team wins, no, yours must lose and lose badly.


Because our team is the best, and being the best at sports means everything.
Battle lines are drawn by color, and state, and division, and conferences. This parochial attitude covered everything in life, and provided evidence that the root word of “fan” is fanatic.
But what price, victory?
Joe Paterno who has ruled over State College, PA in his football kingdom for more than forty years announced his retirement this morning.
In the church that is college football, Paterno is the pope.
According to a CBS news story this morning, The beloved 84-year-old Paterno has been engulfed by outrage that he did not do more to stop Sandusky (an assistant coach) after a graduate assistant came to Paterno in 2002 after allegedly having seen the former assistant coach molesting a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State showers.
"This is a tragedy," Paterno said in a statement. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
But he didn’t do more. He did not go to the police when someone alleged that one of his staff molested a child in the Penn State showers. Read that again and soak in its meaning. Paterno did not go to the police when someone alleged that one of his staff molested a child in the Penn State showers.
How many children’s lives have been ruined, in site of this legendary locker room?
But nothing will change. College athletes and coaches will continue to be revered as royalty. There is always one more win.
The King is Dead. Long live the king.