On Wednesday night, Penn State's board of trustees fired the school's legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach. Earlier in the day, Paterno had promised to retire at the end of the season, but the board opted to oust him immediately. The decision enraged thousands of Penn State students, who took to the streets to protest, throwing rocks and overturning a news van. Was their reaction warranted?
These fans have lost sight of what's important: "Protecting children from sexual abuse is far more important than football," says Amelia McDonell-Parry at The Frisky. That's something any "human being with a soul" can grasp. If Paterno had gone to the police when he first learned of these allegations in 2002, who knows how many sexual assaults could have been prevented? The protesters say the board has "tarnished a legend," but it's Paterno who "tarnished his own reputation" — by keeping quiet instead of turning in an alleged "child rapist."
"Penn State students protesting Joe Paterno's firing need a reality check"
And this behavior isn't helping: The students "rallying and protesting in the streets are making the situation worse," says Brian Floyd at SB Nation. Penn State has already been devastated by this scandal, and the community doesn't need "a potentially destructive gathering on top of everything else." Though the rioters represent only a tiny segment of the school's population, their bad behavior is bringing everyone down.
"Penn State riot: Student protest grows after Joe Paterno fired"
These riots are particularly tough on the victims: "The board of trustees got it wrong," Ben Andreozzi, an attorney who has been counseling some of Sandusky's alleged victims, tells The Patriot-News. The board should have anticipated this disruptive reaction from students and let Paterno leave on his own terms at season's end. Seeing these protests is painful for the alleged victims: "The school let the victims down once, and I think they owed it to the victims to at least gauge how the immediate termination decision would impact them."
"Penn State board of trustees 'got it wrong,' says attorney advising Jerry Sandusky's alleged victims"