Character Matters

Character matters. Character combines integrity and ethics and creates resolve within a person. It is more than simply doing the “right thing”; it’s doing it for the right reasons and includes both acts of commission as well as omission (what you could have done, but didn’t).

Character is essential to leadership. Leaders who speak well, have creative ideas and know their business processes will only go so far without character. People can sense when character is missing.

A lot of Penn-Staters are bawling and whining over the pulling down of the Joe Paterno statue, along with the striking of 11-12 years of wins in the PennState football ledgers. They complain that it’s “not fair”, is only a symbolic gesture and that it demeans Paterno’s integrity, character and his love for the university…

…but that’s exactly the problem: Joe had no character; he had no ethics. All Joe Paterno had was drive, focus and determination…for the game of football. He won games and instilled confidence in young men…to win games.

But when it came to having the guts and character to place the entire football program on its head because of the horrific raping of young boys by one of his best friends and football associates; Joe showed that the depth of his “character” was about the depth of water in a teaspoon.

And that’s what the NCAA decision says: it says that it’s not enough to merely be the winningest coach around – that it’s not enough to recruit talent and fill stadiums and drive your team to victory after victory. For unless you do all that, and do it with unimpeachable character…it’s hollow, vain and for naught.

Character matters. And the Paterno family should learn a collective lesson from all this: that their dad was a bum: a football legend…but a bum at heart. I hear the wails that one “little” mistake shouldn’t ruin a man’s entire legacy. What the wailers don’t get is that the Penn State football homosexual sex scandal WAS Joe’s legacy…and it was no “little” mistake. And, now, rather than drafting off their father’s reputation…they’re left sneering and complaining about his treatment as a direct result of Paterno’s own actions or, more precisely “lack of action”.

All that needed for evil to flourish is for “good men” to sit and do nothing. And nothing is what JoePa did. Oh, he #WishedHeCouldaDoneMore…(or maybe it was “woulda’“) goes the now trademarked excuse. Well if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. And the Paterno family’s ride is over.


Because character matters.

About gabulmer

Christian apologist, husband, father, runner, blogger, leader with LIFE Leadership.
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3 Responses to Character Matters

  1. Gene booher says:

    Is waiting forr the total truth to come out part of character ?

  2. gabulmer says:

    Almost, Gene.

    But, for dyed-in-the-wool Paterno fans…that’s NEVER going to happen. State College made a “god” out of the football program as well as JoePa. There were folks who wanted to blow thew whistle who, after having a private meeting with Paterno, “changed their mind.”

    The ONLY move, upon hearing about Sandusky, would have been to say “Y’know, Jerry, I love this football program, and you’ve been a friend & colleague over the years, but this cuts all ties – you’re out of here – I’m turning you in to the police, personally.” You don’t simply call the police, or report the incident to college superiors or state that you “wished you could have done more.”

    Had Sandusky been stealing Patero-autographed Penn State football helmets & selling them to alumni and JoePa done nothing; different story – I could see Paterno saying “I’m too busy to get involved” & simply report it up the chain of command.

    But these are people’s lives destroyed. Joe knew and covered it up. Penn Staters who continue to live in denial over that had best seek counseling.

    End of discussion.

  3. gabulmer says:

    Penn State a reminder of the dangers of hero worship

    From The Sidelines By Bob Morris Sports Editor

    • Fri, Jul 20, 2012

    The saga of what has happened at Penn State University, regarding what comes off as an attempt by several PSU officials to try to sweep allegations against Jerry Sandusky under the rug, certainly exposed the need for university officials to take such allegations more seriously and have proper procedures in place.

    But it’s also exposing just how much the worship for Penn State’s football program is very much a cult and raises this question: Just how much adulation for a sports program is too much?

    The filing of multiple counts of sexual assault on children against Sandusky, which ultimately led to his conviction, led to PSU President Graham Spanier’s forced resignation, the firing of head coach Joe Paterno and Athletic Director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz facing perjury charges.

    But it also led to students and supporters of the Penn State football program rallying around Paterno, even as much of the investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh revealed that Paterno beared as much responsibility as anybody else involved for failing to protect those children who were victims of Sandusky’s behavior.

    In other words, to these students and supporters, anything said about Paterno that might paint him in a negative light is an insult to the university and its well-known football program.

    It’s an example of the dangers that can come from engaging in “hero worship” for a particular sports program or anyone involved in such a program. Those who engage in hero worship buy into the concept that an admired individual cannot possibly do anything wrong, and even if the evidence strongly shows that the individual did something wrong, the hero worshippers repeatedly engage in denial.

    I like sports, am a big football fan, a lifelong supporter of the Denver Broncos and enjoy covering sports for The Raton Range.

    But I’ve also learned, through the years, to think more critically about issues and to remember to apply that critical thinking to sports.

    Yet, in sports, it’s too easy to get caught up in the hype that surrounds an athlete, coach, team or program. But getting caught up in the hype is dangerous as it can lead to people putting critical thinking aside in the mad rush to show pride in a favorite team or college.

    In one forum I frequent, one person described Penn State: “(I)t really is truly a cult-like atmosphere at Penn State. Went back there in (2008) and it’s like a mini-Woodstock. People come in from miles and miles away to celebrate all that is Penn State football.”

    And plenty of those people are now living in a world of denial, all because of hero worship.

    There’s nothing wrong with getting behind a particular sports team or liking a particular athlete. But we must remember that the sports teams are just that — sports teams, not a way of life. And we must remember that athletes are human beings who are capable of making mistakes — and while we realize that everyone makes mistakes, everyone must be held accountable for them.

    Those at Penn State who made mistakes — multiple ones that proved very costly to a few children — need to be held accountable.

    But in the meantime, those who worship Joe Paterno and Penn State football need to be held accountable as well.

    And it would serve us all well to hold ourselves accountable — and to be careful about hero worship.

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