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When a Man Becomes More Than a Man

Batman Begins and V for Vendetta are two of my favorite movies. Both movies work through the idea of people becoming more than themselves and standing as a symbol in an imperfect world. By becoming a symbol, you become a perfect idea. Batman embodied the idea of justice. V in V for Vendetta embodied the idea of revolution. Both characters inspired and pushed others toward action.

Joe Paterno isn’t a revolutionary or super hero. He was a head coach for a very successful football program at Penn State for 46 years. Throughout Paterno’s tenure, he became synonymous with Penn State as an institution.  He is revered and celebrated by previous and current students and is the face of PSU. By understanding his transformation from coach to the face of PSU, it’s helps to understand why students are rioting at PSU now. They feel that the firing of Paterno is a direct attack on their experience at PSU

Jim Prisching / Associated Press / October 22, 2011)

I’m not judging the situation. I don’t have enough information to decide whether PSU administration is purging all parties associated or if Coach Paterno was really involved. However, I question the system in which coaches are held as larger than life figures on campus. Football coaches are human, therefore flawed and work in less than perfect institutions. Coach Paterno is just a man. A man who is susceptible to making mistakes. A man who is replaceable.

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