Any time The Sentinel hires a new sports reporter, I offer them a bit of advice. Some of it is the same sage sports wisdom that was passed on to me when I entered this profession decades ago.
And then I tell them one more thing: Don't touch the athletes.
It should seem obvious and unnecessary. But the reporters who come here often are 20-somethings just out of college, and their dating pool includes women not too much older than those who the newspaper sends them to report on.
It's a shame I feel compelled to have to say that. But it's a warning shot over the bow that fraternization with school children will eventually lead to a lot of unhappiness for a lot of people.
Enter Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno.
Before you get the wrong idea, I'm not here to jump on the beleaguered Penn State coach, who, along with university president Graham Spanier, was fired Wednesday.
In fact, his own admission aside, I think Paterno has been unfairly hung out to dry, if not blamed outright, for something Sandusky is accused of doing.
There will be a sizable crowd - many of my colleagues among them - who think the end of his tenure was long overdue and will be glad that Paterno is no longer there.
Don't count me among them.
I've been listening to cries that "Joe must go" since 1989, after the Nittany Lions completed a season with a losing record, a first practically since Cain and Abel were in the Penn State backfield. At least then it was about Paterno and football, not a widespread belief that Paterno fumbled when it came to the Sandusky situation.
Jed Donahue, whose Saturday Sports Jam radio show discusses all things Penn State football, made an interesting point a couple years ago when listeners were, one after another, demanding Paterno's head on a platter.
Look away from Beaver Stadium, Donahue implored, and see the real legacy of Joe Paterno. There's the library that bears his name. There are the businesses in State College - restaurants, hotels, retailers - that owe their livelihood to the success that was Paterno's trademark.
The university benefited, too, with millions of dollars of income generated toward its programs thanks to the tens - later hundreds - of thousands of fans who came to Penn State half a dozen weekends every fall.
Ask yourself the same question Paterno faced: If someone comes to you and makes a non-specific allegation about a coworker and friend, what would you do?
Paterno - despite second guessing himself all these years later - did what he was required to do. Could he have done more? Obviously, yes. But he also counted on his superiors - two of whom are now under indictment for perjury - to do what was required of them.
Several years ago, I received an allegation about a coach whose team I covered. It came from someone who had no apparent ax to grind and who believed the school district was sweeping the matter under the rug, and I looked into it. Whether the coach was guilty or not I'll never know - but there was no evidence of guilt that would have required me to report the coach to the authorities.
Another coach I've dealt with since arriving at The Sentinel was rumored to be having an inappropriate relationship with a student. Again, no proof.
Am I as guilty as Joe Paterno because I didn't see those cases through to the police? Would I have been guilty had it come out later that rumor and innuendo proved to be fact, and I missed that in my role as a reporter?
A coach in Selinsgrove, one who taught in high school when I was a student there, was having sexual relations with students for more than a decade before he was caught. A classmate of mine made the observation after the teacher was outed that "everybody knew" back in the 1980s. Should all of those people lose their jobs, have their careers tainted because they didn't speak up?
For that matter, why are Penn State and Paterno shouldering all the blame? The alleged victims in this case all seem to have ties to Sandusky's activities with The Second Mile, the charity he started. Why is it getting a free pass?
I admit I may be biased when it comes to Paterno. My parents, grandparents and other family members all had ties to Paterno when I was growing up in State College. I believe that, if he were really guilty of perpetuating Sandusky's alleged crimes, I'd be more disappointed than anyone.
Until then, I'm going to remember Joe Paterno for the good he's done for Penn State, college football, education and his adopted home.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.