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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State Pride (and Shame)

Reference article HERE.

As a kid I wasn't the biggest sporting fan in the world.  I was tall, very lanky and not particularly graced by any sense of coordination.  Sure, I eventually learned to enjoy playing some sports, such as basketball and tennis, but by and large I was not ever someone who was a sports fan.  I was always a Penn State fan though.

As I worked through my high school years, I really wasn't sure what I would be doing with my so-called life. Sure, my grades were good...I think I graduated in the top 10% of my class...but I wasn't particularly inspired  for anything, other than maybe architecture.  Well the architecture thing didn't work out, as you need great test scores to get into college for it, and my SAT scores were abysmal.  In truth I think I had been drinking the night before the test, which probably had something to do with my shall we say "less than stellar" scores. My senior year approached and I applied to a few different colleges, but I was really only serious about attending one:  Penn State.

My Penn State career began in 1982, the year in which the school won its first football national championship.  Four years later, after stints at Scranton and Harrisburg, I left Penn State with a BBA and a job.  It was the year of Penn State's second football national championship.

Interestingly enough, I had never been to State College (Pennsylvania) until a few years ago.  That, however, never curbed my enthusiasm for the university.  Over the years I've done my best to financially support Penn State, I've volunteered for events at Penn State Harrisburg and served on its alumni society board for two terms.  I also, after years of paying for it, got my much sought-after life membership in the Penn State Alumni Association.

I mention the above, I suppose, as something of a way to give myself some "street cred" when it comes to Penn State.  My time at Penn State really, truly changed my life, especially my last two years.  I have been nothing but exceedingly proud to proclaim myself a Penn State graduate, up to and including the alumni license plate that graces my car.

Recent events have given my pause though as I think about how others view Penn State, particularly current students and supporters of Coach Joe Paterno.  As I noted the other day, Coach Paterno made a grave error (or maybe errors) by simply following procedures when credible allegations of child molestation were made against a former coach.  The "Paterno Way" was to never simply take the easy road, it was never simply to "just follow the rules", it was never just was "victory with honor".  There is no honor in placing a football program's reputation above that of even the potential that children are being harmed.

To the Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University:  I applaud your actions in immediately terminating Coach Paterno and President Spanier.  I'm not proud that this had to be done, but I suppose you have done the best you could in these particular circumstances.  Now take the text step by putting policies in place that will prevent an athletic program to become so important that it can run an entire university's reputation into the ground.

To the current students of Penn State:  Imagine yourself being ten years old and being raped by an old man in a shower.  Now tell me what the real issue is in this case.

I am not Penn State Proud at the moment.  And my annual gift is sitting here un-mailed.  It very well may stay that way for the rest of this year.

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