November 16, 2011- Issue 9 Opinion

People must be held equally accountable

By ETHAN SMITH
Opinion Editor

The Penn. State scandal has stirred up a question within me that I find perplexing and aggravating. When the allegations and firings were made public, there were outcries of rage all across the country. However, the anger was not entirely directed at the coach who was accused of sexually assaulting a child (Jerry Sandusky), but instead at the administration for firing Joe Paterno, the head football coach who, while not being accused of child molestation, is being accused of not appropriately handling the situation and of making sure actions were taken against the coach.

Is Joe Paterno a great college football coach? Many say yes. However, the question that has floated around my mind is whether or not that makes him exempt from the same moral standards as other citizens. I’ve seen a lot of people whose reactions suggest they think he is. People rioted on Penn State’s campus, and “friends” on Facebook cursed Penn State’s administration and denounced any future coach the school might hire as head coach in the future. This mindset irks me.

No one is exempt from confronting child abuse. If an astounding police chief covers up allegations that one of his officers molested a child and is forced to resign, would thousands of people riot? No. The same can probably be said of firemen, teachers and soldiers. So what is so special about a football coach? Graham Spanier, the president of Penn. State was also fired, but no one rioted for him.

I’ve heard some people say that Paterno did all he could by notifying the administration, but I disagree. He could have certainly made it public once the administration failed to act. It is quite possible that he may have received heat or been fired from the administration, but is his job worth the safety of a child?

Furthermore, the vehemence that assistant coach Mike McQueary has received also riles me. McQueary was the assistant coach who brought the scandal into public view. Since the scandal began, he has received multiple death threats and been put on administrative leave for reporting ignored sexual assault allegations.

So here I am, left wondering just what exactly it is about high profile sports that makes us lose our minds and adjust our moral compasses? I will take a moment to say that I love sports. I like watching them and playing them. However, morally impermissible actions should not be ignored, even when committed by athletes and coaches.

I am not saying renowned coaches and athletes aren’t valuable or worthy of praise, I am merely challenging our habit of putting them on a higher pedestal that police officers, soldiers, doctors, teachers, firemen or pretty much anyone who can’t throw or catch.

This scandal angers me because Penn State’s administration made an attempt to convey that all levels of power are held responsible for their actions, even the coaches and president, but many peoples’ reply was “no.”

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