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When Minimum Requirements Don’t Meet the Requirement

November 21, 2011

I read a lot of sports stories, especially biographies, as a child. One of my earliest childhood sports memories was reading about Joe Paterno at Penn State University. I first recall reading about not having names on jerseys as one of Joe’s hallmarks. You know, no ‘I’ in team! I have always rooted for Joe to do well (except when they played the PAC 10 in the Rose Bowl). I was delighted to watch as he set the record this year as the winningest coach in Division 1 NCAA Football. I think of words like character, loyalty, and discipline.

And now, we have one of the most horrific stories in youth sports coming out of Penn State. It has cost Joe his job and his reputation. Not for something he has done, but for what he is accused of not doing. I certainly do not know all the facts about what transpired under his former assistant coach. What is reported is that Joe knew something bad was happening and though he did what was legally required, he is being accused of not doing enough to stop it.

If what I have heard so far is true, I could be tempted to turn from fan to foe. But my emotions are tempered by stopping to ask myself, “Have I ever not done enough?” “Have I ever not done enough to stop a wrong, to right an injustice, or even to further good?”

I imagine in retrospect, Joe would handle things differently. But before I get consumed with his actions, I need to take stalk of my own. I hope all of the lives that Coach Paterno has positively impacted will continue to be representative of the great character that for decades was his legacy. I hope his tragic circumstances will be a wake up call for all of us to take a stand against evil. Almost 300 years ago, Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Please take a minute to think about what you could do today! Are you striving for the minimum requirements or are you committed to doing whatever it takes for good to triumph?

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