Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Penn State & Idolatry Part I

“I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.” Modified Flickr CC image

Chapter 2: Idolatry Then & Now Part 9

This week we will be wrapping up the chapter on idolatry, by tying the traditional concepts to the modern day as a preference to the next chapter on corporate culture. 

In both 1998, and 2001, the top officials at Penn State University decided not to report assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for child abuse, who in 2012 was convicted of 45 counts, including crimes that happened after 2001.

Why did this happen?  Because Penn State University propagated a culture of idolatry, a value system that put the interests of the institution, (its football program in particular) ahead of the welfare of people.

According to the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, Penn State had a “reverence for football program ingrained at all levels of the university.” This started from the top, with a “president who discouraged discussion and dissent,” and included the person who switched off CNN on the TV in the Penn State student center just before the Freeh Report was released.

Outside of Penn State, the reaction against Joe Paterno, the former coach who more than anyone else could have acted to stop Sandusky, has been swift.  Nike removed Paterno’s name from a child developmemt center on its Beaverton Oregon Campus.  Artist Michael Pilato painted over the halo over Joe Paterno’s head on the mural he painted in downtown State College PA.


2 pictures of PSU Graduation via Flickr CC

And now, the latest wrinkle says it all.  Should the 7 foot tall statue of Joe Paterno be taken down?  According to a recent article in the LA Times, university officials are unsure, and the community is divided.

Anyone care to guess what I think?

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    The people who paid the biggest price in the Penn State tragedy were the kids who were hurt who could have been saved if Sandusky were arrested back in 1998 when his activities were first uncovered. 90% of child abuse is by people known to the abuser. For a few easy to steps to help keep kids safe, see the previous post.