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From Penn State to State Pen: Joe Paterno, Literati



If you want to be an English major in college, you may think twice with revelations this year. Oh, those in the know may have known it, but the stunning fact is that sports figures often come from the world of literature.

Fiction is a great background for those who find truth too dull.

Al Davis, Joe Paterno, Bart Giamatti, and Marty Schottenheimer were among the sports administrators who have learned from the great books of poetry, fiction, and drama. Yes, they were English majors, the most reviled major in most colleges and universities.

Certainly their lives are worthy of Shakespeare. The Bard would have probably dismissed the plotlines of Davis and Paterno as bizarre beyond comprehension, but he tackled some of their transgressions.

King Lear comes to mind. As time marched on, the leader became surrounded with those who held him in contempt and finally played him for an old fool. It was a storyline right up the alley of Shakespeare, Joe Paterno, and Al Davis.

Most interesting of all, the biggest names in sports administration who studied literature all chose to enter football, the most physically daunting of professional sports.

There the young gladiators under their charge were about as far from English majors as a rhinoseros from Samuel Beckett.

There could be nothing quite like the Theatre of the Absurd under the watchful eyes of Joe Paterno and Al Davis.

If you think Paterno didn’t know who Fagin was to little Oliver or Magwitch to little Pip, then you likely think Paterno didn’t know what his coach pal Sandusky was to the boys of the Second Mile.

No doubt about it, being an English major can open doors—whether at Penn State or the state pen.



Dr. William Russo is embarrassed to admit he too was an English major, and even taught the subject to undergraduates. Russo's newest book is now out, ready for your tablet, your smartphone, your Kindle or Nook. Read RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY to find a month-by-month examination of the team, showing all the signs of trouble that most sports media missed. His other sports books are SEX, DRUGS, SPORTS & WHIMSY and RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR!




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