College football looms large in the lives of many American men. Even if we didn't put on the helmet and pads for our school, most of us played a few downs with our friends during childhood, or we passed the football back-and-forth with our own fathers. Going to college was a rite of passage for many of us, or even if we didn't go, our parents wanted us to. And the sport cuts across lines of gender, race and class. Attend a football game in any American college town, and you'll see local fans who never went to college, working class guys treating their wives and kids to game day at the ol’ college.

When we attend college as young men, football game day is a nexus all of the hope and possibility that lies ahead for us. We got into college. We're learning and pursuing a career mission. Girls are everywhere. There are parties. We're making friends. Everybody cheers for the athletes (gladiators) on the field who pummel each other in this violent, visceral sport in pursuit of victory. This feeling stays with us for the rest of our lives. We are college football fans forever.

Until yesterday, the most beloved father figure in American college football was Joe Paterno. The 84-year-old was unceremoniously fired as head coach of the Penn State University football team, where he had coached for 46 years. His ouster by the university's board of trustees led to small-scale rioting, as passionate young Penn Staters, mostly young men, turned over cars and clashed with the campus police. Watching news reports and hearing their chants - "Let Joe stay!" "Joe Pa must not go!" - I could feel their pain.

Their father has let them down. Psychologically, that's exactly what has happened. A father or at least a father figure in our minds - the beloved old "Joe Pa" - has let us down.

In this instance, the downfall was particularly revolting. According to credible news reports, JoePaterno had good reason to suspect that one of his assistant coaches was sexually abusing children, and he never called the police. Oh sure, he talked to other university officials about it, but nobody really did anything about it. The abuse continued. If you doubt the seriousness of all this, go to Google and read the news reports and the 23-page indictment by the Pennsylvania Attorney General. It will sear your soul when you learn about the abuse of young boys that occurred under Paterno's watch. Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the victims.

So where does that leave us? Where does that leave the young Penn Staters who are acting out, but who deep-down feel betrayed by a beloved father figure?

Maybe we can turn this into a learning moment for ourselves, because it happens to many of us. Our fathers let us down. And when they do, it represents a chance for us to learn and become mature, grown up men. The sad story of Joe Paterno offers us a lesson:

As mature men, we can learn to "father ourselves." Then, we no longer need to rely, psychologically, on fathers or father figures who are only human and who could let us down.

Otherwise, we will "act out," just like the boys on the Penn State campus, who are overturning cars because they have just learned that their "father" is really a deeply flawed man.

Have we grown into the mature, adult, masculine men that we have a right to be? Or are we still acting out like boys?

Author's Bio: 

Tony Monterastelli, Editor-in-Chief, Tony is passionate about helping men, and women, understand psychology and human behavior to improve their own lives. He has an extensive background as a business journalist, newspaper reporter, and public relations executive. In addition to editing and writing for, Tony helps train men at dating, attraction and career growth. Reach Tony at 773-852-2234,