Sunday, January 22, 2012

RIP, JoePa

It's impossible to live in this world without experiencing sadness, or seeing tragedies unfolding before your eyes. In the case of Joe Paterno, his end came not with the adulation he richly deserved, but with a closing act marred by his ousting from the job he loved for dealing with the reported the crimes of another in a way that others rightly deemed legal but "inappropriate" --- and which he, himself, would have handled differently as a fifty-year old in command of all his faculties, instead of the aging giant he was when he he was confronted with the scandal.

At the end of my life I'd rather be judged and remembered for my accomplishments when I was in my prime, rather than for my failures as I reached my end. Forgotten in the search for scapegoats in this case was the fact that the real villain in the story of Paterno's Fall was the child molester, not the old man who actually followed the law, but lacked the mental acuity to follow through by himself.

The same can't be said for the assistant coach, and perhaps not for the whole rest of the PSU athletic establishment. But if the final ledger for Joe Paterno is the number of kids he helped, set against his failures, I think the net result is better than most fallible human beings ever manage, including those who were most vocal in calling for his scalp. And we would be better people to remember him as the living legend who inspired generations of athletes and students, rather than the fading old man he was at the end.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a retired public prosecutor from Michigan, writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel Clouds of Darkness, the compelling third volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.