Stop building statues of people
Posted July 10, 2012
I was left wondering something the other day as I read over some of the reporting on the Penn State scandal. What exactly happens to Joe Paterno's statue if we find out he was really involved in some massive cover-up? It got me thinking about if it is really wise to build a statue of someone who is still coaching at a school. The simple action of building a statue of someone is literally putting that individual on a pedestal. If you go to Penn State's stadium, you will see JoePa there, on a pedestal. I'm not sure he belongs there at this point.
I will give you another example that has nothing to do with Penn State. Florida State put up a statue of Bobby Bowden before he "retired". I went to a Florida State game shortly after the thing went up and couldn't help but laugh at the situation. For one, the statue was of an older Bobby who looked as skinny as he did when he was a very young coach. It was there, on a pedestal, in front of a stained glassed window. It truly had the feel of the "church of Bobby Bowden". I stared at all of this, while I was standing outside of "Bobby Bowden Field". I remember hoping his time would end well or that statue would look pretty silly. Hmmmm. If you remember, it didn't really end well. He was pretty much shoved out the door, past his statue and stained glass window, and out of Tallahassee.
Nothing that happened at Florida State is even in the hemisphere of what's going on at Penn State, but wouldn't it have been nice if FSU waited on the bold tribute? You can still say thank you to a coach without such a display. Take two schools in the Triangle for example. Mike Krzyzewski coaches on a floor named after him. Dean Smith coached in a building named after him. In the very unlikely event Coach K does something to tarnish his legacy before he retires, it will be very easy for Duke to quietly and discreetly remove that name from the court. It's not nearly as easy to take a hammer to a statue.
I know how much we love our coaches and our sports stars. I am totally onboard with thanking a person for his/her longtime service to a team or University. I just think it would be smart to hold off on putting anyone on a pedestal before their time on earth is done. It puts the people left in charge with a no win situation of leaving it there in scandal or taking it down. That is not a position I envy at all. It's just not worth it. Keep tributes to something easily changed.