President Obama called for the nation to do some "soul searching" in the wake of a scandal at Penn State University that led to the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno after it was revealed one of his assistants allegedly sexually abused eight boys and the team did little to stop it.
"Obviously what happened was heartbreaking, especially for the victims, the young people who got affected by these alleged assaults," he told Westwood One Radio in a Friday night interview, making his first public comments on the scandal.
"And I think it's a good time for the entire country to do some soul-searching — not just Penn State. People care about sports, it's important to us, but our No. 1 priority has to be protecting our kids. And every institution has to examine how they operate, and every individual has to take responsibility for making sure that our kids are protected."
Obama said that the scandal showed the importance of individual action. "You can't just rely on bureaucracy and systems in these kinds of situations," he said. "People have to step forward, they have to be tapping into just their core decency. ... all of us have to step up, we don't leave it to somebody else to take responsibility."
On the National Basketball Association lockout, Obama said he had no plans to get involved but sounded a populist note on the matter. "My attitude is that, in a contest between billionaires and millionaires, they should be able to figure out how to divvy up their profits in a way that serves their fans who are allowing them to be making all this money," he said.