It’s possible to be sympathetic and furious

One of the first things I learned at Penn State was a little something they now call multitasking.

So I’d like to tell anyone who thinks Penn State supporters don’t care about Jerry Sandusky’s victims that I can feel terrible for the boys and want to ensure that no child’s suffering is ever again missed. At the same time, I can question the knee-jerk reactions of the media, the NCAA, the Big Ten and everyone else who has piled on Penn State to assign punishment and blame when the court cases are not completed, all of the pertinent information is not available and many key people have not been heard.

I can sympathize with the young men who came forward to convict the monster and those who haven’t had the courage to do so while I decry the lack of investigative integrity in Louis Freeh’s report and the news conference in which he offered up huge conclusions not supported by factual data in that report.

I can demand an investigation into the actions of every person involved with Sandusky’s unfettered access to young boys — not just a cherry-picked few with glaring omissions like the only eyewitness, the leaders of Sandusky’s charity and whoever let him adopt six sons — at the same time I reach out to distressed fellow alumni because the leaders of our university did such a poor job representing us in the public forum after their pathetic handling of Sandusky’s crimes.

I can question how any human being could have witnessed an adult sexually abusing a child without taking immediate physical action at the same time I feel awful for the Paterno family because the leaders of what should have been a grateful institution made their husband and father a scapegoat to conceal their own inaction.

I can feel deep satisfaction that the monster will rot in jail for the rest of his life at the same time I feel deeply sorry for the members of the Penn State football team who’ve been victimized for something they didn’t do and for every other student-athlete whose experience will be diminished by a reduction in football revenue.

I can shudder at the perversions described by Sandusky’s victims at the same time I shake with rage because the Penn State-hating head of the organization charged with enforcing the rules of college athletics would so abuse his organization’s power to “punish” Penn State for notbreaking any NCAA rules. This encouraged vultures from other colleges to pick at Paterno’s remains by seducing away players.

I can be proud that Penn State students have raised so much money to help abuse victims through RAINN at the same time that I am furious with every media moron who looks down his or her nose to declare that Penn State should have been less focused on football and more focused on academics. Penn State is the only major university that has consistently done just that, at least since Paterno took over the football program.

I can shake my head in disbelief that a smiling monster fooled parents, children, community leaders, fellow coaches, law enforcement, his wife and everyone else into thinking he was a great guy who cared about kids at the same time I shed bitter tears over what has been done to the legacy and accomplishments of a genuinely great man I loved, respected and revered — and still do.

I can hate everything Sandusky did with every fiber of my being while I continue to be proud of the traditions that make us Penn State.

And I can do all of that at the same time, so don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting that if I support Penn State or decry what’s been done to Paterno’s legacy that I don’t care about the suffering of Sandusky’s victims.

We are Penn State, and we can multitask with the best of them.

Donna Baver Rovito is a freelance writer, advocate for patients’ and physicians’ rights. She has a degree in journalism from Penn State and lives in Allentown.This piece was posted in the Letter to the Editor section of the Centre Daily Times.

16 thoughts on “It’s possible to be sympathetic and furious

  1. I agree! The sad part is that this whole scandal has seems to have brought out the worst in humanity. There were people out here who hated Penn State before this fire storm. People hate the pride we have in our school, so they will challenge anything we say by assuming our there’s a lack of interest in the victims. I think it helps them sleep at night.

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  2. Donna Baver Rovito – I have a new heroine in my life. You said all that I have in my heart, and you said it so eloquently. Bravo! and Thank You.

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  3. Donna, wonderful letter and thank you for allowing us to publish. I’ll correct one error that you are not old enough to appreciate. The program Joe took over from Rip Engle, after serving as his assistant for 16 years, was already practicing the Success with Honor formula which made Penn State special, if not unique. If Joe were still here, he would be the first to tell you that he just continued what Rip started.

    Gary Levitt ’64

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  4. Beautifully written! And I thought that only Peggy Noonan could write like that.
    Thank you so much, Donna, for making my day.

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  5. Well said, Donna. As a member of the media I am appalled at the lengths some will go to spin a story and get their name in print. As a former western Pa HS and college football player, I knew Rip Engle, Joe Paterno, and several Penn State players. They have, as does the entire Penn State University family, my complete respect. I also have a son who was a victim of a molester and perhaps have a better understanding of this problem than many others, including the media, the Big 10, the NCAA, and the BOT, who folded under pressure and thereby damaged Penn State and so many innocent people this drastically. Keep fighting the good fight!

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  6. You have articulated beautifully the reactions of all thinking persons–alumni and friends of PSU–to the unbelievable incompetence of the PSU administration and BOT.

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