By Mark Edwards
Despite a storied and illustrious 46-year career at Penn State University, college football coach Joe Paterno will be forced to retire in the midst of a child-abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach. After being notified by a graduate assistant, the coach failed to sufficiently report to the proper authorities an alleged instance of child-abuse by his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky has been charged with 21 felony counts of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15 year period.
Is Coach Paterno in anyway culpable? Does his pristine reputation and legacy deserve to be trampled on despite his countess good deeds and notable charitable contributions he made to many academic endeavors? Could one egregious transgress nullify 46 years of contributions to society?
The answers to these questions will vary from person to person, and only time will tell on how the court of public opinion would ultimately judge Coach Paterno.
What is notable and worth taking from this situation, is the all too frequent and sobering reminder of how fragile success can be. One can move mountains and part waters to achieve great feats and dominate personal goals, but one lapse in judgment can compromise all the personal sacrifice and goodwill accumulated over the years.
In Coach Paterno’s case, once he was notified of the alleged transgression and decided not to report it to the proper authorities, the bad deed was done. Every day he failed to properly disclose his knowledge of the alleged assault, the ramifications for his failure increased. Days turn to months, and month to years. So much time eventually passes that even a reasonable man in the Coach’s position would not opt to disclose his knowledge. In essence, the bad deed can be narrowed down to one bad decision. That decision not to tell the proper authorities at the first opportunity eventually festered into other reasoned bad decisions. All gone so fast…
So we must learn from Coach Paterno’s mistake, and be vigilant protectors of our careers.