Pressure building on Nike to rename "Joe Paterno Child Development Center"

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Pressure building on Nike to rename "Joe Paterno Child Development Center"

Nike's Joe Paterno Child Development Center

As first reported by the Oregonian's Allan Brettman last week, the on-campus day care center at Nike is called the "Joe Paterno Child Development Center".

In the wake of the Sandusky scandal (and scandal seems too light a word - maybe "atrocities"?), the idea of naming a child care facility after Joe Paterno feels deeply incongruous.

Now, I'm certain that the good folks who care for kids at Nike are wonderful and supportive. But that's exactly why Nike should move immediately to change the name.

One Oregonian, Naseem Rakha - a public radio commentator and author of The Crying Tree (a novel about "the transformative power of forgiveness") - had this to say on her blog:

“Mommy, Daddy, who was Joe Paterno, and why did they name my school after him?”

“Oh, Bobby, he was an icon. A giant of a football coach at a very big and important school, and his school had a very big and important contract with Nike. He was a legend. And, well, yes, he was fired for helping cover-up of the rape of several young boys. But, let’s not dwell on that. It’s not a good business strategy.”

I know one thing. Those Nike glasses I was thinking of buying? Not doing that. No more Nike shoes for me, either. Or shirts, pants, socks, bras, balls, backpacks, hats or hoodies. No more nothing.

And she's not the only one.

Ron Judd of the Seattle Times says:

When Phil Knight starts cozying up to you, it might be a good time to put a defense lawyer on retainer. That's the impression one might get by strolling around the Beaverton, Ore., campus of Nike, the Great Satan of sports.

Nicole Stockdale of the Dallas Morning News suggests, "Don't name buildings after someone until they're dead":

I cringe every time a school district or municipality names a building after some beloved public figure who is still alive and kicking. I have no doubt that most are upstanding individuals who deserve to enjoy the milestone while they're still with us. But the chance for a scandal always exists, and it can flip honor into ignominy lickety split. ... Nike didn't name just any old building after the embattled former coach. It named a child development center after him.

As one Oregonian told KPTV-12:

"I would be ashamed to bring my kids to that kind of place, just knowing that the person it's named after wasn't willing to stand up for children," said Trinity Bernier-Nachtwey, a Portland-area resident who believes the name should change.

Of course, any good argument needs a devil's advocate - and Forbes's Mike Ozanian is happy to oblige, arguing it's a good business strategy:

Nike was right about [Kobe] Bryant. Is right about [Tiger] Woods. And will eventually be proven right with its decision to stick with Penn State. Nike has not become the world’s top sports brand by accident.

Devils' advocate, indeed.

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    What a ridiculous discussion. Joe Paterno is being scapegoated and you guys can't resist jumping on the bandwagon. For starters he didn't molest any body ...what he did was spend 44+ years of his life molding the lives of 1,000's of athletes into becoming winners and hopefully solid citizens.

    When he was told by an asst coach what he had seen he picked up the phone and reported it to not one but 2 of his superiors ... could he have done more? was he required to do more? the answers are yes and no. He was under no obligation to hunt the other man down and effect a citizens arrest, or do anything more than he did. He had personal knowledge of NOTHING! The idea that every boy this man molested after that was Coach Paternos fault is crap.

    Paterno earned the honor of having his name on Nike's building and many more after that.

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      What a ridiculous argument. First of all, nobody is saying that Paterno needed to hunt down Sandusky himself. He didn't need to because in our society it turns out there's a group of people called the "Police" who are responsible for investigating possible criminal activity. If you were being assaulted on company property and somebody came across it happening, would you be content with that information just being passed up the corporate ladder? Or would you perhaps want somebody to call the cops?

      Similarly, this wouldn't even be a debate if it had happened at any other workplace. Imagine that a McDonalds cashier happens to walk in on the former assistant manager molesting a child in the bathroom. A day later he reports it to the manager. The manager passes the info on to the owner of the franchise. It ends there. Nobody would be defending the manager when the story broke. Nobody would be saying "But he's been managing that McDonalds for 44+ years, during that time it has had 24% higher profits than other McDonalds in the region, and he's molded 1000's of teenagers into outstanding McDonalds employees." It's farcical. Instead everybody would be justifiably asking "Why the hell didn't he call the police?!".

      Your whole argument is essentially "But he's a football coach!". If not more accurately that he's a successful and famous football coach. If this had happened to a football coach named Dave Christensen, or DeWayne Walker, or Darrell Hazell, etc. instead of Joe Paterno, then you wouldn't be rushing to their defense. The fact that you mention that he turned athetes into "winners" is telling, because it shouldn't even be relevant. Who cares whether or not he's a competent football coach? He heard about an alleged horrific crime and the best he could do was tell his boss rather than the police. Nor did he ever apparently follow up on it. Nobody in the chain ever told the proper authorities, and as a result the crime was allegedly repeated. Are we supposed to blame the people above and below Paterno, and yet absolve him of all guilt for doing the exact same thing they did, just because he's a good football coach?

      It's John Stuart Mill who said; "A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury."

    • (Show?)

      Nike's daycare center doesn't have to be named after anyone at all. It's a daycare center.

      If something had to be named after Paterno, it would better have been a football facility.

      (Or maybe that event parking lot up by Tiger Woods Center that is too far from the center, poorly lit and has no sidewalks.)

      BTW if that is your screen name, it's in pretty poor taste.

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    Paterno might go down for having failed to comply with his mandatory-reporter obligation. Or he might go down for not acting to stop a criminal. But this immediate assault on everything Paterno seems bizarre; while I realize that internet information moves at the speed of light, perhaps everyone should just take a deep breath.

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    I have to agree with Jonathan here. Everybody needs to take a breath when it comes to Paterno. None of us know any of the true details yet. Let's wait until criminal cases are finished and the truth is determined one way or the other before we castigate anybody. That whole "Innocent until proven guilty" thing gets kind of inconvenient when you just want to blame somebody and move on.

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      Of course he is innocent until proven guilty, as far as having to go to jail or pay restitution or anything like that. Be that as it may, I don't see any good reason now to leave his name on Nike's day care center. If a mess like this broke out on my watch, I wouldn't expect a medal.

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    Perhaps Chester, Jonathan and Sean have better information that what SI has reported, with respect to Paterno's criminality.

    But from what I understand from reading, it seems like he's facing the following:

    • Perjury

    • Obstruction of Justice

    • Violating the state's Child Protective Services Law.

    • Negligently failed to prevent a third party with whom he had a supervisory relationship (Sandusky) from committing abuse.

    No, the hisotry's not been written on this yet.

    But it won't ever again sound like this:

    • (Show?)

      I completely agree, Kari. Paterno cared more about the ability of his players to meet their academic obligations than his own ability to meet his moral obligations. The fact that his name is on a child care center, given the disregard he had for a child, is particularly galling.

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