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The Large Tribute for a Football Coach

Why is there so much attention on Paterno's death?
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY- Since Joe Paterno passed away, thousands of people have been coming to State College to show their respect. But there are others who question the large tribute for a football coach.

Penn State Sociology Professor Sam Richards says it doesn't surprise him that there are many tributes to Joe Paterno, he says its how the community bonds together to grieve.

Elizabeth Smith traveled from Ohio to leave a candle at Joe Paterno's statue.

"I watch a lot of football and I know he is a big legend do here and everybody loves him," Elizabeth Smith, a Penn State fan said.

State College stores are paying tribute to Paterno by decorating store fronts. Customers want to honor him too by buying Paterno t-shirts.

"It's in remembrance of him, of respect. He did so much for us and now that he is not around it's still great to represent why we are still proud to be here and who he is as a leader," Sara Rzucidlo, a current Penn State student said.

But others are asking, why is this such a big deal? Why is everyone giving so much attention to a football coach?

"When someone who is really well known dies and many, many people are connected to it, it just bonds us together. It's not just like somebody in my family died, you know a hundred people find out about it, thousands and millions and millions of people find out," Sam Richards, Penn State Sociology Professor said.

And Richards says Paterno wasn't just a football coach. "Joe Paterno was a human being who as able to bring together millions and millions of people and draw attention to the things that were important to him."

Even though many didn't know Paterno personally, Richards says they have some kind of relationship with him, based on memories.

"So many people are connected to Joe Paterno and to Penn State through Joe Paterno. So this outpouring of grief and emotion is really an outpouring of memories."

And as for the dozens of flowers and candles, "It's just a personal recognition of death. And there is certain sense that it builds a reverence to this thing that is so big," Richards said.

Elizabeth Smith says she lit her candle out of respect.

There's been a steady flow of people stopping by the Joe Paterno statue since Saturday and the memorial there just keeps growing.
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