Hubris and Joe Paterno

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By John Hubbuch

The Greeks, who thought of most everything philosophic ,gave us the concept of "hubris". To be sure the concept has evolved over the centuries. Today it commonly means an overconfidence and pride leading to downfall. Dr. Frankenstein,Hamlet and MacBeth are examples from literature of hubris. Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in NCAA football is another. Mr. Paterno was fired last week in the middle of the season because he failed to  report to the police an alleged rape of a 10 year old boy by a former Penn State coach in the Penn State locker room in 2002. That crime was only one of many for which Jerry Sandusky was indicted by a Pennsylvannia grand jury last week after a three year investigation.                                  

Now the facts are still coming out and our legal system is based on innocence until proof of guilt. But it sure looks bad.                                                   

 It appears that  Mr. Paterno's pride has certainly contributed to his downfall. He is 84 years old and still in charge of a major business--Penn State football. Despite failed efforts to get him to retire he has always maintained that he and he alone would decide when it was time to leave, and his iconic status enabled him to do just that ---until this horrible scandal brought him low. Old guys holding on in sport is nothing new. Older guys like me  remember how pitiful Willy Mays was at the end. It was so sad to see Ali's swollen face at the end of his bouts late in his carrer. And then there was Brett Favre's clownish end.                          

Joe Paterno was 75 years old when a young assistant reported the assault to him. Joe told the athletic director but never followed up or said or did anything else.  You have to wonder whether a younger man would have handled this horrible matter differently---better.                                               

Joe Paterno won more than 400 football games. His program never was put on probation by the NCAA. He raised millions of dollars for the university. And yet all of this fame and fortune will be forever tarnished because a man tempted fate ,believing that he was somehow exempt from the tide of life. Hubris.

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