Character: Doing the right thing when no one is watching...
November 22, 2011 "The campus does not need you, but the families may...
I've been talking with my coaches about the disastrous character breakdown at Penn State and found we share some of the same opinions that we believe are important in sorting through this tragedy.
Coach Paterno is quoted as saying he will spend the rest of his life restoring Penn State. If that is where you spend that precious time, Coach, you have missed your opportunity.
The fact is, Penn State will survive without Coach Paterno. Students will still receive a quality education and Penn State will continue, like other great institutions, to churn out graduates in a variety of majors. Business will resume as usual. The graduating class of 2012 will throw their caps in the air in June. Joe's statue may or may not come down. The institution will go on when Joe has come and gone.
Coach, where you can be of help is with the families who have suffered as a result of the travesty that occurred on your watch. You know that we, as head coaches, are accountable for the good and the bad that occurs in our program. Those precious souls who trusted your coaches and were violated beyond comprehension need your resources and your voice.
As a high school coach, I realize that we must be beyond reproach. When mistakes happen, you meet them head on with no regard for your reputation. This is where our character is shaped. Kids and families trust us. Coach, you need to spend your remaining days helping any way you can to heal those kids and try to restore their trust. "I wish I would have done more" doesn't cut it. Start by asking for forgiveness.
Asking for forgiveness goes far beyond "I am sorry." Forgiveness means talking eye to eye with those families. It means helping human souls. This isn't about institutions. It's about kids. Here is an opportunity to lead with character. Try beginning with no press conference, no national program with "your endorsement," but meeting them eye to eye and heart to heart. Do that, and watch a forgiving society embrace you.
It is not a coincidence that Penn State played Nebraska in what I believe is the most controversial week in college football history. If the game had been cancelled, my guess is that Nebraska never would have whimpered about their lost opportunity. Nebraska, I believe, would have handled it with character. I witnessed two teams of tomorrow's leaders at the 50 yard line, asking for power and healing from our Higher Power, with a man of God leading them in prayer. That's character and leadership I can follow. I hope that example gave those damaged families some small hope that they are loved and justice will prevail.
I know that my coaches and I will do what we can as champions for lost kids and hurting families. This tragedy has helped me be a better leader of my own non profit where we mentor at risk and fatherless kids. The bar is being raised like never before.
Greg "Coach Roz" Roeszler is the Founder & Executive Director of Playmakers Mentoring Foundation. If you would like to invite Coach Roz to come and speak to your organization, he can be contacted through www.ThePlaymakers.org