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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Joe Paterno's Statue: Taking Down the Shrine

     At 5:00 in the morning on Sunday, July 22, 2012, construction workers barricaded the street in front of Beaver Stadium where Joe Paterno weighs 900 pounds and stands 7-feet tall. The men who had come to remove the Happy Valley shrine put up a temporary chain-link fence upon which they draped a blue tarp to spare the grieving onlookers from seeing what they were about to do one of the iconic symbols of Penn State University. (I suspect these Joe Paterno defilers were statue removers brought in from Columbus, Ohio. At Ohio State they're erecting a statue of Louis Freeh. Just kidding.)

     The pre-dawn abductors, using a jackhammer, freed the statue from its foundation, then with a forklift, picked it up and lowered it onto a flatbed truck. The 150 spectators looked on in horror and disbelief as the kidnap truck rolled off with the revered statue. To these fans, some of whom chanted "We are Penn State," it was like seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell being hauled off to a landfill.

     The likeness of Joe Paterno had been erected in 2001 in honor of the coach's 324th Division I football victory. On the day before the abduction, the coach's wife and two of his children paid homage at the foot of this Penn State monument to football greatness. They were joined by fans who hugged the figure, and had photographs of themselves taken in the presence of the great man. One worshiping fan said this to a reporter with the Associated Press, "This statute was a symbol of all the good things he's done for the university." (Yes, like all the good things Jerry Sandusky did through his youth organization, The Second Mile.)

     What kind of emotional basket-case would sob at the foot of a dead coach's statute? And why would a major university devoted to higher learning erect such a thing in the first place? How many professors are so immortalized outside of lecture halls? (I'm guessing none, and that's fine with me. As far as I'm concerned, very few people are statue-worthy.)

     At Penn State and other big universities, football is a religion with the head coach the god, and the football stadium the cathedral. With Joe Paterno's shrine no longer on display outside Beaver Stadium, where can worshipers go to pray for Penn State victory?

     Athletes come and go, but a winning coach can stick around long enough to be immortalized, and worshipped by sports fanatics who, if they didn't have football, might join a cult, or become emotionally attached to some celebrity. Perhaps they could join the idiots who walk on hot coals for one of those motivational hustlers.

     Since I'm not a big sports fan, the psychology of extreme jock-sniffing escapes me. Maybe there is something profoundly wrong with me, and they are the normal ones. Who knows?  



  1. When the entire Western civilization, and likely 99% of the rest of the world is sick, it is no longer useful to ask who is normal and who is sick. It is more useful to ask who is the sickest, who is less sick, and who is the least sick. And as proof of the scale I mention, I site the LIBOR scandal, the Euro crisis, the oceanic garbage gyres (which are comparable in area to continents), over 40 million Americans getting government help to buy food, and the continuing economic malaise in America and Europe and Japan.

    1. so how sick is sick enough? did you know in murrica you can be rejected from a psychiatric ward despite having a psychiatric disorder and displaying symptoms?