The Best of Both Worlds

By Eric Zanzucchi (@ericzanzucchi)

A huge debate has erupted over whether or not the Joe Paterno statue should be left up at Penn State. Push comes to shove I really don’t care what they do. He has a positive and negative place in their history that could justify both outcomes. As with most cases of overreaction, I’d like to take the middle ground.

Some are calling for the Death Penalty, asking the NCAA to either suspend or eliminate the football program. That is very unlikely to happen for several reasons. Mostly, the Death Penalty is only supposed to be applied to programs that have committed recruiting infractions. You could make the argument that they’ve benefitted in recruiting for 15 years by not having this scandal break in 1998, but I’m not going to make that argument. The bottom line for me is that by penalizing the program at this point, you would only be punishing those who had nothing to do with the scandal.

I initially assumed that the university would tear the statue down solely to appease the masses in the hopes of moving on. They are now at this moment, committed to keeping it up. After all, college football fans are a generally conservative group and there is a sentiment of respect for the past. Some believe that inevitably the statue will be vandalized or destroyed because there is so much outrage.

What’s to say Penn State’s decision to keep the statue up is not unintentionally the best possible choice?

Joe Paterno’s statue will remain for the moment. Let’s assume the destruction of the statue is an inevitably as people are suggesting. What then would be the outcome? Certain people would claim it’s destruction as a victory, even though it would simply be a symbolic victory. The other side of this could simply shrug the incident off and we could all finally move on.