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Why Joe Paterno Doesn’t Care About NCAA Punishment

July 23, 2012

Today, the NCAA handed down an unprecedented punishment to Penn State University and its football team for the neglect and cover-up of Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of boys.  Penn State must pay $60 million to an endowment to benefit victims of sexual abuse, lower the number of football scholarships for four years, are prohibited from playing bowl games for four years, and have forfeited 112 wins dating back to 1998 (the date believed to be Penn State authorities’ first knowledge of Sandusky’s violations). 

The reduction in wins moves Joe Paterno from the “winningest” coach in college football history to 8th place. 

And guess what?  Joe Paterno doesn’t care. 

Why?  Because he’s dead.

I’m not trying to be morbid, nor am I taking a pot shot at JoPa.  I am simply recognizing the truth that, once we die, the things that seemed to matter so much to us don’t matter anymore.  Death is the great equalizer.  Even more, death is the great revealer.  It reveals that winning games doesn’t matter.  It reveals that our earthly awards can’t do us any good.  It reveals that much of what we cherish in this world isn’t significant. 

Many are saddened by the marring of Paterno’s earthly, football legacy and reputation.  His statue has been removed.  Really, that statue doesn’t do him any good at this point.  Death made sure of that.  

Death cuts to the heart of the matter.  I think that for those of us who have the chance to have one or more final reflections about our life just before we die must have great clarity in that moment.  Death leaves no illusions of grandeur.  It has a way of giving a lucid view of priorities.  I wish we could live like that – for the things that really matter.  Maybe we can.

Christians believe there is such a thing as eternity.  However, true Christianity is not an escapist mentality.  It asserts that some things in this life are eternal.  Some go on to live beyond us in this world and in the next.  Football or earthly success is not one of those things. 

Sin is one of those things. 

Paterno’s mistakes continue to influence not only the football program at Penn State but our world.  The good news is that righteousness also continues to influence.  Generosity, service, and sacrifice which testify of the love of Jesus are crucified in us but are raised in the lives of those who are forever touched by those righteous acts.   This is the challenge of life, and certainly, it is the challenge of the Christian life:  to live for things eternal.

When our lives are carried by the flow of the eternal purposes of God, the result is that we matter.  Both here and for eternity.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Holly Blankenbaker permalink
    July 23, 2012 3:38 pm

    Very well put, Nate!

  2. Cathytravis permalink
    July 23, 2012 4:02 pm

    Good writing, Pastor Nathan, good writing! We must keep our vision on the eternal when living our lives.

  3. Lynette Brown permalink
    July 23, 2012 4:09 pm

    This whole fiasco was just another example of selfishness on the part of EVERY ADULT participant. In a society that views innocent babies as expendable, flushable, usable, and more….what can you expect? Sandusky, Paterno and all of the Penn State administrators were thinking only of themselves and the benefit to them. “RIGHT” became a inconvenience.

  4. Christy Cadwell permalink
    July 23, 2012 4:10 pm

    That is good stuff! Hope I can teach my boys to look at each day of life with an “eternity” mindset 🙂

  5. Beverly Bandman permalink
    July 23, 2012 5:22 pm

    Well said, Nathan! So many will not even consider this reality regarding thie Penn State scandal and cover-up!

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