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A Random Thought about the Penn State Tragedy

Let me be clear. I was/am a Joe Paterno fan. He obviously was a flawed man. Just winning football games doesn’t make you perfect, any more than pastoring a Baptist church does. I am just saying I am a fan. On the flip side, I am definitely not a fan of the NCAA. The get it wrong as often as they get it right, in my humble opinion. Having said that, even though he was 75 years old when this “coverup” began, you have to assume if he is sharp enough to run a major college football team, he should have known legally and morally that friendship could not take precedence over the health and safety of children. (By the way, I wonder how many of us that are pontificating during these days have looked the other way, choosing to believe the best about a friend at some point.) In the end, he chose friendship above all other considerations. Today, the NCAA responded by vacating many of his wins, fining the team, and imposing crippling sanctions on the football team and the university that he loved and served.

There is a lesson to be learned here. It is one that has been learned the hard way by too many people too many times. It is found in Proverbs 13:20. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” JoPa was not the one that abused children, but his companion did and the coach’s legacy is destroyed. The young men who committed to play for Penn State did not commit this crime, but their foolish companions did and for that, they don’t get to pursue the goal they came to college to pursue – postseason play and a national championship. Even the non-athlete graduates of PSU have their degrees tarnished a little bit in the public eye and they did nothing-but the fool with whom they have associated themselves indirectly has brought harm to them.

In this age of friendship and loyalty as the ultimate virtue, it is probably a good reminder that the companion of fools suffers harm and a we would be wise to choose those companions carefully.

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