Blue White 2012. Welcome Back to the Pride.
Many schools have them.
Many schools celebrate them.
But this school and this community have a unique and special opportunity.
It is no secret that the events occurring in November 2011 were tragic from almost every perspective. There were no winners, and the community of Penn State was wounded to its core. It was difficult to walk through the town and not see the sadness that existed behind everyone’s eyes.
It was difficult to be a proud Penn Stater.
There is no doubt that pain and trouble still lie ahead. The case is not closed and the parties responsible for their transgressions have yet to taste true justice.
But there is hope in this Spring.
Penn State was the birthplace of what has been termed ‘The Grand Experiment’. In short this experiment was to be related to the football team, where our incredible athletes would be held to incredible academic standards. They would be asked to be at their absolute best both physically and mentally. A failure of one or the other would not be tolerated.
This above all else, is the true source of Penn State pride. While other schools may treat their athletes as commodities to sell tickets or jerseys, looking the other way or with indifference to their academic pursuits, Penn State would look at them as students first. Penn State would look at them as people.
As athletics became a beacon for fund raising, the importance placed on winning at Universities cannot be understated. Coaches are routinely hired and fired due to the performances by their teams on the field. They are not held accountable for what their athletes do off of it. In fact most of America EXPECTS that the athletes are treated differently, that they are not in fact true students. They get in with their 40 times and an adjusted SAT score. They go to class, but their work is done mostly by their tutors.
I believe that most Americans believe that collegiate athletes, specifically those in major revenue producing sports, are NOT real students.
Penn State was different.
Penn State IS different.
On April 21st Penn State will gather again for their Spring Game. The game being played is of little consequence. But the message sent cannot be diluted by apathy. The players are not just players, but STUDENTS who attend Penn State for BOTH its athletic and academic prestige.
They are more than just a football team; they represent the pursuit of excellence in EVERYTHING that we do. Be it athletic, be it academic, be it moral. Being at Penn State means the pursuit of greatness in all areas of life. At times, perhaps they will fail. But it is that pursuit that makes them Penn Staters, and it is that pursuit that makes us who WE ARE.
If you plan on attending the Spring Game, as a former player, as an alumnus, as a resident of State College, I ask that you keep the values of Penn State alive. That you act with respect to fans and people around you. That you cheer relentlessly, and passionately. That you greet your neighbors with smiles and handshakes. That you be your best.
Welcome Back To The Pride.
Welcome Back To Penn State.