Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coach Paterno‚??s parting lessons

February 19. 2013 12:55AM

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THE COACH warned us not to show off.

Yet, apparently in an effort to be first and flashy, a young man prematurely and erroneously reported on Saturday night that the old, cancer-stricken football coach had died. Far worse, several so-called professional media outlets abandoned the basic rules of journalism and fueled the rumor, no doubt adding to the family's distress.

The coach wanted us to be patient and to play fair.

Even the coach's bosses couldn't seem to show restraint and to exercise fair play during early November when the masses called for a pound of flesh. Amid blistering public criticism and ample confusion, these purported "leaders" chose first to save face. They fired the then-84-year-old coach. Only later, they said, would they gather the facts.

The coach urged us to stick with the game plan.

Like another run up the middle, consistently extending a legal right such as "due process" to individuals doesn't usually bring the crowd to its feet. The bleacher sitters instead holler for instant results, preferably with high drama. In the coach's final days on the field, many people assigned guilt and extended blame far and wide. Certain editorial writers and talk show yappers fanned the frenzy. A governor and others obliged the mob, implying swift action was needed to ensure the "safety of children." This week, the morally righteous might be seen backpedaling as they file past the coach's coffin.

The coach told us to keep perspective.

In life, there are many more important things than games and scores. But, confronting a painful loss toward the end of last season, rioters took to State College's streets, seemingly oblivious to what mattered most: alleged child victims.

The coach of Penn State University's football program for 45 years, a famed and feisty man imbued with all the usual human frailties, didn't want us to be like him, but to work to become our better selves.

It seems we will need more practice, Coach. Much more practice.

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