So I’m 35 (wait, what?) now and I can safely say that I don’t worship athletes, or any celebrities, the way I once did. I won’t lie, I still find myself looking up to people more than I should. Yes, both literally and figuratively. But the 13 year old in me (I know, this is opening me for a lot of really bad Sandusky-like jokes) doesn't deserve to have his heart broken anymore. It’s not like I was ever a huge Penn State fan or loved Joe Paterno. I did, however, have a ton of respect for him and appreciate what the school stood for. Of course I liked him, how could you not like the old guy on the sideline with glasses so thick you could see what he was thinking. How I wish that last statement was true.
Man, there’s something about those glasses. Damn those glasses. Having worked in optics as long as I did, I've made lenses that thick before. Every time I did, I felt bad for the poor SOB who had to wear such heavy things. More than that, I couldn't help but feel sorry that they had such poor vision. I had a vague idea of how much they missed seeing. Or so I thought. Turns out, Joe wasn't missing as much as we hoped. He was just looking the other way.
We all shoulder some blame here. Not that we’re responsible for what Sandusky did, or what the powers that be at Penn State didn't do. But they don’t jump up on that pedestal as much as we put them there. No one should be on a pedestal. Funny, when looking up “pedestal” on Wikipedia, there’s a note that states it’s often misheard as “pedal stool.” Turns out, that’s probably more accurate. Even more accurate is “peddle stool.” It’s all bought and sold, and it’s almost always crap.
I think it’s time we reevaluate what a hero is. No longer should it be the guy who runs the fastest or jumps the highest or throws a ball the hardest. No elected officials. Not even the guy who runs into the burning building. A hero, for me, is not anything I want to define. Being a good parent, spouse or a loyal friend, that’s heroic enough now. Maybe it always was.