It’s a question which I have been pondering since the ugly mess that is the child sex abuse scandal exploded into the national conscience.
It’s about here that I should probably put my biases up front. I graduated from Penn State in 1978 and am a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association.
Therefore, it’s no wonder I have been conflicted these last few months. I have two Penn State caps and a few shirts and, yes, I stopped to question whether to wear any of them.
But then again, I did not go to Penn State just because of Joe Paterno and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 40 years in the journalism business, it’s that celebrities are human, even if it is often the human condition to attach god-like status to those we admire.
In fact, the only time I ever addressed a direct question to Joe Paterno at York Sports Night, I asked whether he ever allowed himself the chance to consider his legacy.
His answer wasn’t exactly complimentary. To put it nicely, he said he didn’t have time to consider it.
Ironic now, isn’t it? He probably had plenty of time to think about it, even if he would never admit it, in those days as cancer ravaged his body.
Now, with Joe Paterno’s passing, it all suddenly seems to become ancient history. With the first kickoff of 2012, a new coach, new offense, new defense and challenges await Penn State just as it has at numerous universities which have changed coaches over Paterno’s decades as head coach in Happy Valley.
What now? Life continues and, yes, I’ll wear the Penn State garb. Why? Because the university really is so much more than Joe Paterno … or football … or sports. It is a fond memory and instruction which has given me a career in my preferred field.
And that’s worth supporting, Joe Paterno or no Joe Paterno.