I will probably be misunderstood for saying this, but I am sad that Joe Paterno was fired.
Not because I believe he was innocent—none of us who get our information on this topic through the media really know what happened, so we are not in a position to judge.
No, I am sad because I believe the world needs heroes, and the nature of our media is to tear down and destroy heroes.
I’ll grant you: it may be true that there are no heroes, that heroes are a fiction. That there were never any heroes, that the media is just revealing the truth behind the facade.
I understand that everyone is human, everyone is imperfect, everyone gets tummy aches. Yet, I value heroes. Why?
Heroes, fictional as they may be, serve a valuable purpose. Heroes are role models. They give us normal people something to which we should aspire. They illustrate excellence. They provide hope and inspiration.
Striving to be a hero makes life worth living.
P.S. I realize that someone could easily interpret these comments to say that we should overlook the crimes of our heroes. No, stop that thought right there because that’s not what I’m saying.
P.P.S. Ivan Meisel at ESPN conveys my thoughts well:
The idea that Paterno’s legacy, built with the highest of ideals, will be stained by the vilest of scandals should test the faith of all of us…if we cannot believe that JoePa knew to do what is good and right, than in whom, pray tell, can we believe?
It is a sad and stunning end to a 20th-century American success story. An Italian-American kid from Brooklyn grew up to become one of the most influential figures in American sports. He supped with Presidents. He transformed a university. And a career that should be celebrated is sullied instead.