Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wear Blue This Saturday


The Board of Trustees of Penn State has fired head football coach Joe Paterno. Having read the grand jury report (and by the way, I suggest you don't - it is truly horrific) it was the least they could do. Paterno knew, and he did nothing.

Here's how some members of the student body responded:

"Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back. “We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

When I read accounts like the above, it makes me want to cry. What the fuck is wrong with our culture?

How is it that so many people can know that children are being abused, but not one of them can pick up the phone and dial 911 to report the crime?

As a parent, I am grappling with how to process this. My son will probably play baseball, though a small part of me hopes he does not. He'll encounter this fucked up male sports culture bullshit someday. Even if he chooses not to play - it's in the American culture.

I know I'm not sounding terribly articulate here. This is really bothering me, and I don't really have the words.

A therapist I respect has said that after about age 5, too many boys stop getting physical affection from their parents. As if at some point their parents deem them too big to hug and kiss. I've seen it all around me. Sometimes boys look to athletics and their coaches to fill this need for affection and physical contact and belonging in a group. This is also the point where predators know boys are particularly vulnerable.

I need to go hug my children now.

Wear blue on Saturday - the color of child abuse awareness.


Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

I can't even write about this topic, it just fills me with inarticulate rage.

Got It, Ma! said...

This whole thing is so shocking. That the college students would be outraged on behalf of the coach, not on behalf of the boys who were abused is beyond belief. You're absolutely right that this whole thing is so dysfunctionally bound up with the bizarre sports frenzy that grips this country. I will certainly be steering my kids away from colleges with overbearing sports cultures because of stuff like this. Not that my small, liberal arts college experience was perfect, but I'm certain the students would have come down on the right side of this issue.

mom2boy said...

I feel just like you and it has rendered me unable to talk coherently or calmly about it. I love watching college football on Saturdays. I don't know that I will this Saturday. I'm horrified and the length of time and the amount of adults who knew... Just awful.

Jac. said...

I am also so sickened by the entire affair. I get extremely verklempt thinking about it and I don't think I could put two coherent sentences together about how the entire situation makes me feel. It is so F'ed up.

Anandi said...

As ridiculous as it is, I can see how self-centered 19yo college students at a Big 10 football school can make this out as "tarnishing a legend", etc etc. I just chalk it up to youth and stupidity and hope they will develop some kind of empathy over time.

What I can't forgive is the number of people in my FB "friends" list who think it's a "travesty" that Paterno got fired. (I grew up in Pennsylvania so I know a lot of people with Penn State ties.)

These are adults, many of them with their own kids, WTF?? That, I cannot forgive.

It's astonishing to me how many adults failed to do the right thing here. What a shitty world.

the milliner said...

Thank you Hush for posting what the therapist said. Not that I was planning on stopping hugging & kissing DS when he was 5, but it's a good reminder not to let it absentmindedly slip away over time.

DH told me about the story on the weekend and we were having the exact same conversation as everyone is having here. It makes my head hurt, my heart cry and my stomach ache.