Wednesday, November 09, 2011

SPORTS: Act Like You Haven't Been There Before

I was talking to a friend and I mentioned the old saw, "Never meet your idols." Seems, a lot of the times, the idols have clay feet. I was telling her the story of meeting a former major TV star on the set of a movie, one that I had a crush on as a teenager. Turns out the lady in question was incredibly unpleasant ... and headed for a career crash out of the movies. Karma can be a friend.

Another of my heroes was Joe Paterno. He said the single quote I've repeated most often in my life from somebody in sports. "Act like you've been there before." It was said to a long-forgotten running back who, upon scoring, started dancing like he was at Studio 54. Can I date myself or what? Actually, more like a combination of a Studio 54 coked-up dancer and any of your pick of hyper-active animals from the zoo. He was saying, in essence, just hand the ball to the referee and jog back to the team huddle like you had done this several times a day and it was a ho-hum thing. Stop drawing attention to yourself in a team sport where nobody scores without lots of help from the faceless grunts on the offensive line.

Team first in a team sport. I wish the jackasses of the world (you know, Chad WhoCaresWhatHeSaysHisLastNameIs, troubled Terrell Owens and A. Bruce III) understood how contemptible they were to we who aren't interested in laughing at their zoo-like antics. If we wanted a clown show, a football game was the last place we'd turn our attention.

For that one statement, I had a lot of respect for Joe Pa. And it's all gone. Like him.

Tonight, just minutes ago, the Penn State head honchos tied a can to his butt, not letting him even finish out the season he'd earlier announced tonight would be his last. His record, his longevity, his famous quote, didn't save him from the fate he deserved starting a bit less than nine years ago.

The firing should have come a day or two after he 'reported' what he'd been told to the administration. His friend Jerry Sandusky has NOW been arrested for some allegedly awful things involving young boys, many from a charity for youngsters he ran. He allegedly took advantage of the nine years Paterno's largesse provided him to ruin many more lives. Nothing wrong with Paterno just following university procedure then and reporting it the way he did. But the clock ticking on his eventual disgrace began some time in the next couple of days after that. The most famous and respected man in Pennsylvannia didn't pursue the case. He didn't use his considerable clout to see if the story was true or not.

Football was too important to waste on investigating the disposition of the matter. He was proven, eventually, to be ethically bankrupt, if technically innocent according to the law.

My idol had a clay heart. I will never quote him ever again.

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