Friday, September 14, 2012

The key to the future of Penn State football

The future of Penn State, and Penn State football, is looking back at you in the reflection 

You hold the key to the future of Penn State, and Penn State football.
Huh? Who, me? Um, I can’t replace Shawney Kersey ...
Yes, you.
You, Joe the Penn State fan. You, Jill the casual PSU alum.
You, the used-to-go-to-all-the-games, die-hard supporter. You, message board warrior guy.
You, captain of industry, corporate donor. You, I’ve always loved to tailgate at Beaver Stadium.
You, overwrought with disgust for Sandusky and anything Sandusky related. You, rightfully sickened by the national media, the Freeh Report, the NCAA/Mark Emmert, and/or the PSU Board of Trustees.
You, disillusioned by Joe Paterno’s inaction. You, Mr. and Mrs. might make it to a game or two each season, that’s all we can do, we have three kids.
You hold the blue-and-white key to the rebirth of the Nittany Lions, and the university.

Because you were Penn State football, as much as anything else. As much as Academic All-Americans, the Paterno family, no names on the jerseys, tailgating and bowl games.
You were, you are and you will be Penn State, and Penn State football. Because Penn State is Penn Staters, all 600,000 of them, plus all who came before, and will come after.
Have you changed? Will you allow Sandusky to continue to damage your school, and your life?
Because you shouldn’t.
It’s okay, of course, to have very strong thoughts and feelings about all that has transpired. It’s okay, of course, to do just about anything with regard to those thoughts and feelings - to discuss, debate and act, or not act, against the BOT, or Governor Corbett, or Paterno, or whatever moves you. Go for it.
But it’s not okay to let Sandusky, or Emmert, or Freeh and/or the BOT - or whoever and whatever - change who you are, to diminish what you cared about, and demean what you represented.
Because they aren’t Penn State. And because nothing - nothing - was wrong with Penn State. What was wrong were the individual actions of about 0.00001% of the PSU community.
Emmert’s accusations about the culture at PSU are mostly a lie. Not false, but a lie - he has the facts at his disposal, and he chose to ignore them. (Football might be out of proportion at PSU, but no more than at every other major conference school Emmert's NCAA governs.) Emmert’s only evidence is Freeh’s grossly illogical conclusions.
That said, the NCAA sanctions are real, and debilitating.
They could be a decades-long gaping hole in the school, or be a big blip on the radar.
The choice is yours.
Because if you’re no longer who you were with regard to Penn State - if your anger, or disillusionment, or apathy, or despondence, or confusion, or whatever it is that has afflicted you and so many of us these past 10 months, has withdrawn or severed your connection to PSU - guess who you’re harming?
You. And Penn State. And that would be a mistake.
A very small few near the pinnacle of the Penn State leadership totem pole may have failed us - and, of course, may have tragically failed the victims of Sandusky. There is still much more to learn about this entire awful saga.
But Penn State is so much more, and so much bigger, and has been for so long, than so few individuals.
And you know it, because you’ve lived it. Penn State is research and fellowship, art and beauty and camaraderie, business and health and engineering, meteorology and agriculture, charity and philanthropy, liberal arts and athletics, Fulbright Scholars and learning, THON and foliage and ... yes, football. Football is the ritual that brings the Penn State community together.
Penn State is a spirit that spans centuries, connecting hundreds of thousands of people in pursuit of something greater. It is not utopia, and something went tragically awry in one corner of the PSU universe.
But Penn State does not deserve this, does not deserve fraudulent and unchallenged investigations, grandstanding NCAA leaders, self-interested Board members, or herd-following, cowardly national media.
Penn State definitely is not Jerry Sandusky's legacy. Unless that legacy is sparking Penn State to become a worldwide leader in the eradication of abuse.
Penn State has been very good to you. Now you must be good to Penn State.
And that includes your support of the Penn State football players who now have names on their jerseys, the coaches who lead them, and the merchants who rely on the commerce. Despite everything, or perhaps because of it.
During the 2006 World Cup, which was hosted by Germany, some Germans were amazed by the flags everywhere throughout Deutschland.
German flags flew outside homes and storefronts, and in train stations and parks. The distinctive yellow, red and black stripes were painted on faces and murals. Everywhere.
Most had never seen such nationalism on display. It had been suppressed for 60 years. We all know why.
There was good reason for the suppression of German nationalism. There is no reason for the suppression of your inner Penn Stater.
You are Penn State. Let your Nittany Lion flag fly.

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