Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Don't Cry for Paterno

While I am a graduate from Penn State University (PsyBS. `92), I've never considered myself to be part of the "bleed blue&white" crowd. To me, Penn State was where I spent five falls, four springs and three summers collecting a piece of paper and getting a lot stuff out of my system.  My reduction of the experience to bland descriptions of my time there is not to be construed with me saying that I didn't enjoy my time at Penn State. It's not to say that I didn't go to a lot of football games, parties, etc. I'm simply putting it out there that I didn't have a lot of personal investment in being a "Penn Stater".

That said, it's hard to spend that significant a chunk of time, surrounded by a particular culture, and not absorb at least some of it. The lure of the cult and Blue&White is hard to resist. And, even if you don't end up bleeding Blue&White, you are changed for having been there.

I was also very fortunate to have been at Penn State when Joe Paterno was still looked upon by many as some kind of quasi-deity and/or paragon of virtue. It's hard not to buy into that. It's hard not to want to buy into that. And so, to a degree, I did.

In watching the current horror-show unfold in the news, I can't help but be saddened by it all. The rational me always knew that Paterno was human. The rational side of me always knew that, as a human, he had to have flaws. And, while being rational allows you to not be completely taken by surprised when those flaws come to light, it still doesn't stop that gut-punch feeling when they finally do.

In the end, though, I don't know what's sadder: that he didn't (and couldn't possibly) live up to the legend, or that there seem to be so many people eager to participate in the sadistically gleeful feeding frenzy around the destruction of that legend. Watching it all is like watching when a malicious older sibling takes special joy in the distress caused by telling a younger sibling, "Santa isn't." I take that back, I do know which is sadder.