After the devastating penalties the NCAA slapped on the Penn State football program this morning, reactions and emotions were abundant. In this day and age, the social media era, information and reaction comes instantaneously. Most, if not all, Penn Staters were shocked. We expected penalties, but not sure if we expected this.
For every single Penn Stater, this is devastating. We have seen what Penn State is like at its finest, we have seen the camaraderie and passion associated with Penn State football, and we sure as hell have seen how beautiful Beaver Stadium is on a cool, crisp Saturday evening in the fall—where all you can see is white. We have seen the pride that Penn State has ingrained in all of us, the good the university has done, the programs that it has built (which allow us to excel), the families it has helped, and the amazing people it has produced.
This fall, we are not sure what to expect. The incoming freshman at Penn State will have a whole different experience. Saying it will be a tough one is an understatement.
The current sophomores, juniors, and seniors have an obligation to teach the freshman about the Penn State culture. “Penn State pride” has never meant more.
These next couple classes of incoming freshmen mean a lot to Penn State and what it represents. And it all starts with the class of 2016.
They can fold and transfer. They can easily decide to not deal with it and avoid the link to “Ped State”. They can go to another school, and that will be that.
They can also fold by not bleeding blue and white, not getting the full Penn State experience, not expressing their pride, and simply, just attending—just going through the motions. This would cripple the the tradition of Penn State and what it has built for so many years. It could, and probably would, end the remarkable history of Penn State becoming a part of the lives of everyone who has went there.
Or…OR—they can seize the moment.
They can realize they are a part of history, and they can fight. They can take the challenge of restoring Penn State, so when we look back at the scandal, we can call it a hiccup, instead of the turning point for the university. They can love their school for what it has to offer; for THON and organizations like it—not for mistakes administrators made in the past. They can help fight against child sex abuse, and help change, or try to change, the negative perception of Penn State.
It is a tough challenge we are asking 18 year old boys and girls to take on, but something tells me, they’re ready for the challenge. Something tells me they’re not going anywhere.
To the next couple incoming classes of Penn State freshmen (2016 and on): Restore the roar.