Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sport’s power

Nelson Mandela said, “Sport has the power to change world.”  It does.  Sport brings people together, just as much as it tears people a part.  It is an interesting dichotomy that is the result of the fervor that people have for “their team.”  When you observe the time, emotion and money invested in sports, its influence is undeniable. 

This is why I believe that Penn State University made the right move by firing its legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, last week.  The university relieved him of his duties because of knowledge he had about his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky, sexually abusing a young boy. 

Paterno is idolized.  With a bronze statue in his likeness already standing outside of Beaver Stadium, he is truly a living legend.  If you live in Pennsylvania or follow football on any level you know him.  The man with the glasses who has walked the sideline in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions head football coach for the last 46 years is a god there.

Sport has the power.

How many people knew Graham Spanier before last week?  Spanier is the former president of Penn State University who was also dismissed because of the sexual abuse scandal.  He led a prominent American university, but his popularity does not come anywhere close to that of Joe Paterno.  He does not have a statue. 

Sport has the power.

Many Penn State students and fans are outraged that Penn State University’s Board of Trustees could even think about firing Joe Pa.   Like members of a cult, they have had held vigils at Paterno’s home and prayed at their "god’s" statue.  There is no outrage for Spanier.  No pleas from students at the “public-ivy” institution to have their former president restored. 

Sport has the power.    

Joe Paterno had the authority to make sure that Jerry Sandusky never stepped foot on Penn State’s campus again.  He had the muscle to call attention to a grown man investigated over 12 years ago for showering with young boys.  He had the respect to get police involved.  He had the influence to make a community care.

Sport has the power.

On the field, we want our teams to give their best in each game and go all out for a win.  Joe Paterno had the power to make sure that this was done for Penn State’s football program.  He also had the power to demand that his players and staff displayed this mentality off the field and do the right thing, especially for innocent young children.

Too whom much is given, much is expected.  Sport has the power.  As one of the most celebrated figures in sports, Joe Paterno certainly had the power to help the victims in this case.

Heels & Helmets®

"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination."  - Nelson Mandela

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