Column by Cat Tacopina

Cat Tacopina
Cat Tacopina



Almost all of us know what has been going on at Penn State for the past week. However, if you have been living under a rock and are unaware of what’s happened, I’ll explain.

Former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky is being charged with numerous accounts of sexual assault on young boys that were involved with his charity program, The Second Mile. The charges include child molestation and rape, particularly that of a 10-year-old boy in the showers of the Penn State locker room.

After the news broke, Sandusky was permanently banned from the Penn State campus and the President of Penn State was fired along with the school’s football Head Coach Joe Paterno.

And that’s where all hell broke loose.

Penn State students rioted over the news of “JoePa” being fired, and since then more or less everyone in America has given their two cents. People have been critical of the reactions of the rioters at Penn State. These critics believe that the only thing these students care about is Paterno.

Needless to say, I’m really disappointed with almost everyone I’ve spoken with or listened to.

This isn’t an easy situation, and many of us are unable to fathom how this could have happened. How is it that someone like  Paterno could hold this secret for nearly a decade (and would have more than likely taken it to his grave)?

Paterno did nothing. He did what he should have done legally, but should have done more. How can he sleep at night knowing that his assistant coach sodomized little boys who he should have been helping within his charity program?

After a lot of thinking, I do believe firing Paterno was the right call. It’s hard to be someone invested in sports and believe that a coach of Paterno’s caliber, who had just two games left before retiring should be fired. We can say a lot of things about how he was shocked and didn’t know what to do or say in his situation at a Division I Football school, but he still let children get molested, and we can’t show that inaction will be tolerated.

These events clearly show that college football has gone too far. I can’t imagine the grief being suffered by Penn State students, but US Woman National  Soccer Team forward Abby Wambach put it best by saying that football is just a game.

Football is just a game. Yes, I know that football is more than a game for many. In fact, it’s a way of life for many Americans, but little boys were being raped and traumatized. Nothing is more important than those boys, who are now men that will live with this for the rest of their lives. They need justice and it’s been too long for them.

However, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has absolutely no right to say that Penn State football should not have a 2012 season. The punishment is becoming excessive now that some people believe students should suffer as well.

No matter what we say to the students of Penn State who are pro- “JoePa,” they will continue to mourn their loss. I understand and believe we should be more sympathetic because no matter what we say, they’re still hurting. Losing JoePa is the equivalent to losing a family member to them. Just because they have shown that they place football ahead of the charges at hand, does not make them vicious animals. They’re broken and hurt and it’s easy for us to talk about the right thing to do when it is not our life to live.

These students, although jaded and ignorant, did nothing wrong and shouldn’t be punished. I only hope that these students will follow in the footsteps of those who held a vigil for the victims and realize that there is more to this than an American football legend being fired and a broken Division I athletics program.