Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

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Penn State

I haven't written (or even talked) much about the tragedy that occured at Penn State. It is such a horrific thing that I didn't quite know what to say. I spent two years working with sexual assault victims when I was in graduate school and I know the heavy toll that something like rape can take on a person. It can shatter a persons life.

Those close to me know that I am a die hard Penn State fan. I have loved Penn State since I was a little girl. My Dad was a Lions fan so I was too. Still am.

Now Joe Pa's statue has come down. And now Penn State is losing some of their wins. It makes my heart hurt. I have seen first hand the devastation that something like this brings. But what I also know is that removing a statue or forfeiting wins won't make it better. All it does is belittle the accomplishments of years of Penn State athletes. Who is thinking about them? Did those young men do anything wrong???

I'm not going to get into whether Joe Paterno was wrong. I think he (and so many others) bear culpability. But does that erase four decades of coaching. If the statue was of Sandusky I would say blow it up. But it wasn't. It just feels like historical revisionism to me. Something ugly happened so let's erase it. Who does that help? How does that help healing occur?

As a Penn State fan the decisions being made are making it harder and harder to root for them as a university. Who suffers from this? The students, that's who! How are Penn States supposed to hold their heads high and sport their college sweatshirts and hats? How do they not hang their heads in shame EVEN THOUGH they have nothing to do with what happened.

I fear that this is going to essentially run Penn State into the ground. So all of the good that the university does will be erased in history. The millions and millions of dollars that students have raised for cancer research. The THON event they hold every year. The wonderful things they do for their community. Erased by one evil person. It makes my heart hurt.

So I will keep wearing my sweatshirts. I will do my best to show the students of Penn State that they did nothing wrong. I will remember what happened but try to also remember that Penn State stands for more than this one horrible person. I won't let an abuser ruin something so important to so many people.

7 comments:

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Well, technically, it was more than one horrible person....several other people who worked at Penn State were involved as well. And yes, Penn State will certainly suffer (not as much as you think, in my opinion). But I must say I disagree with you on several levels. I can't believe you can talk about the devastation that molestation and rape victims feel and then turn around and talk about how taking a statue down will accomplish nothing, etc! I'm not sure what taking back a win means in sports talk but what about the victims?? In my opinion, the focus should be on the victims and ALWAYS the victims. Penn State is a machine. It will suffer a few glitches and be fine. But those boys are messed up forever.

Kristen 9:30 PM  

Anon- With all due respect i think you are forgetting about so many people who will get lost in this shuffle. I get te sense you are not a sports fan by what you said so I am not sure if this will resonate or not. My nephews are football players. Seriously talented players. They will get scholarship to big name schools. They will work their entire youth life so that someday they can walk onto a college football field. Now imagine all that work is wiped away when a governing body says that the games you won are gone. Now imagine you are a junior at penn state. You worked your butt off to make it and now you can't compete in a bowl game. Maybe to you that means nothing but to a lot of young men that means everything. So yes, the victims should be the main focus but there are more victims here than the ones who testified in court. And no, OBVIOUSLY not in the same way but they shouldn't suffer for what others did.

Lastly, I think you completely missed my point. I have spent a lot of time working with individuals who have been victimized and I can tell you that removing a statue, taking away wins and penalizing uninvolved people WOULD NOT have done them a damn bit of good.

Kristen 9:41 PM  

Anon- one more thing I wanted to add (it's been bugging me ;D). Penn state may be a machine and they may only suffer a glitch but to every athlete who will lose their chance to play pro or lose the glory of playing in a bowl game... That could be life changing. It's more than a glitch to them.

Every single rape victim I ever worked with I can assure you would not want anyone else to suffer even a little bit. Even if it was only about a sport: That would not help their healing process in the slightest bit (unless it was their perpetrator). the victims have to remain the highest priority but I don't think this decision hands out punishment to those who deserve it most.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I only know you from your blog, but I can say with certainty that you are not heartless, obnoxious, mean or rude. You are not racist. And I know you have empathy! I just want to say that first.

This is all just so complicated. Yes, removing a statue does nothing. At the same time, it just can't stay up. Know what I mean? PS has no choice but to take it down.

Your perspective is an interesting one, and one that I haven't heard much, as I don't read the sport pages. (You are right: I'm a bit of a sports novice!) And I completely agree that it isn't fair to the athletes, esp. those who are there now. But that just shows how damaging and far-reaching this situation is. 100 years from now, penn state will be chugging along. There are lots of collateral damage in terms of people now and that sucks.

I have experience with victims of sexual abuse as well (on a personal level, no professional) so my words stem from that. I see too first hand how much that affects them. Pithy statements and gestures do nothing; that is true. At the same time, i would fight to take down statues, etc. This whole complicated sports connection...denying athletes opportunities.... that seems extremely wrong. And yes, unfair. It's good to have an advocate for them indeed. But I wonder if this is a case of "too soon."

Thanks for a good debate! It's good to flex my brain in the morning! Now to get my girls off to camp!

Casey Smith 3:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Casey Smith 3:40 AM  

yikes, I hear you but it's got to come down. I mean, Paterno actively covered up Sandusky's assaults that occurred in his locker room during his tenure. And I suspect had he lived he might actually have been brought up on some criminal charges. I won't comment on a person who allows a statue of themselves to be erected at their place of work during their life there (ego much), but I will say that I agree that the football players will get penalized by all these sanctions, but I hasten to use the word "suffer" or "victim" when referring to them. They'll be fine.

Kristen 9:16 AM  

Anon - My brain to needs flexing once in a while. :D Glad we could air some of that out. The whole thing upsets me so much I think I needed to work through it a little in my own mind. The whole thing is just a damn shame. I think we can both agree on that!

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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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