Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who WE ARE….

May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State

Undoubtedly it was been a hard week to say I am a Nittany Lion with pride. For the first time in nine years (almost to they day when I got my acceptance letter in the mail) I did not choose to put on a PSU t-shirt at the end of the day. I am saddened that we will be known as “the school with the sex scandal” and not for all of the amazing good that our school has done. I am saddened for a legend who made a moral mistake and after 61 years will leave like this and be known for his wrong instead of all of his right. And most of all it goes without saying that I am extremely saddened and heartbroken for the victims of these acts. I pray for these children and their family's for their healing and strength. I pray that justice is served to the real monster behind all this.

"Penn State Football doesn't define us. WE ARE so much more than that. WE ARE the number one most-recruited, sought-after graduates for major corporations and Fortune 500 companies in the country. We are a leading research institution accredited by the National Science Foundation. WE ARE over 94,000 students across campuses, with alumni in every state and 87 foreign countries. We are the creators of the number one student-run philanthropy in the world, raising over $78 million for the Four Diamonds Fund since THON's creation in 1977. Don't forget how incredible this university is, and don't allow irresponsible oversight to destroy our reputation. WE ARE...going to get through this together, always acting "For The Glory" and remaining true to who WE ARE and what we stand for in the name of our alma mater. WE ARE....PENN STATE, forever."

It was hard to find the words to express how I was feeling being an alumni to a school going through so much. I had a lot of frustration yesterday reading many non-Penn Staters comments on social media sites about the posts my fellow alum were making on their feelings of the situation. But these folks just didn’t get it. Some one on facebook said “If you loved your alma mater as much as I love mine you would understand” and that is the truth. There is something that you leave Penn State with that is like no other. You leave with an immense amount of pride and enter into a very large, very passionate community. There is nothing like it! I read this this morning and could not have put it any better myself. This OSU fan (can’t believe that one) gets it, they get where we are going from, they get what we are feeling.

“Dear Penn State Fan/Alumni,

You don’t know me.  Sure, we may have seen each other once or twice at a road game or a tailgate, but aside from a passing glance, and an occasional hello, we are strangers.  Heck, we’re actually more like enemies.  After all, I’m a fan of The Ohio State University – tOSU, or O$U as you might call it.  Since you guys joined the Big Ten Conference in the early-90s we’ve built a pretty spirited rivalry, with more than its fair share of heroics, heartbreaks, and triumphs.  To be sure, we’ve both crossed the line on occasion.  Urine balloon barbs and incontinence jabs have clouded the fact that we’re actually not that different, you and I.  We’re both proud disciples of two of the most storied programs in all of college football, and although you’d be hard pressed to get a Buckeye fan to say it to your face, we respect the hell out of you and your traditions.

I’m writing because I know how you feel right now.  The actions of your beloved president, coach, and athletic director have shaken your program to the core and have threatened your own faith in humanity.  You’re shocked that someone you idolized could have done something so stupid, so selfish, so infuriatingly contradictory to the values they spent decades promoting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing what happened in Columbus to what’s alleged to have happened in State College.  Only Bob Ryan is stupid enough to draw that parallel.  What I am saying is that I know what it feels like to have a personal hero disgraced.  To watch someone you admire, who did more good in a week than most of us do in our entire lifetimes get publicly shamed, and forced out under a cover of darkness.  To see a legacy irrevocably stained and treasured accomplishments tarnished.  To have one person’s mistakes drag your university’s good name through the mud.  To be labeled an accomplice to the crime by virtue of your fan allegiances.

As I was driving to work this morning, I heard one of your own call in to The Herd and explain that he didn’t know how he was going to unapologetically put on the Blue and White and sing “Fight On, State” this Saturday.  He’s not the only one to express that sentiment.  Perhaps you’re feeling a little this way.

This is what I want to say to you.  You are not Joe Paterno.  You are not Tim Curley.  You are not Gary Schultz.  You are not Graham Spanier, and you are sure as hell not Jerry Sandusky.  Their alleged sins are not your own.  They may be the most recognizable faces of your beloved program, but they are not Penn State.  They are not a 156 year old center of higher learning.  They are not a century of football tradition.  Their flaws cannot eclipse the innumerable scientific, artistic, and humanitarian contributions your university, and its 44,000 students and 570,000 living alumni have made and will continue to make to the world at large.

The spirit of a program, of a university, and of a state is so much bigger than any one person.

So do yourself a favor, and stop thinking about Joe Paterno.  No amount of discussion can change what happened, and his bed is made for better or worse.  Recognize that only time can tell how he will be remembered.  (For what it’s worth, I hope beyond hope that the facts turn out favorably.)  Say a prayer for the children, and on Saturday, put on your Silas Redd jersey, brave the cold, and cheer your ass off for your team.
Not because you support the coaches, because you support the men on the field.  Not because you endorse the administration, because you believe in the University as a collective whole.  Penn State University has always been (and will always be) about one thing and one thing only: making life better.

It’s not just a motto, it’s a mission.  And you’re still a part of that.

Pray for the children.  Cheer for the team.  And in two weeks, make the drive to Columbus, so you can watch us bury your Big Ten title aspirations in person.


A Buckeye Fan”


Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

awwww, i'm sorry. i definitely feel for you! but that person is right - you guys are so much more than a few famous people at your school. GO PENN STATE! :)

The Bignon Family said...

Such a sad thing for everyone involved!! It is a horrible way for him to go out, and I do hope that time will determine how he will be remembered and that is for the great coach he is. Sad all around. Sad for the boys. Just sad...