Breaking the Rules

Breaking the Rules

For the last few days I’ve tried to write about something, anything, other than the disastrous officiating of Saturday’s game against OSU. But as my husband said, it’s blowing up Facebook. Fan complaints, official statements, pregnant pauses in post-game interviews. I’m surprised it’s gotten this much attention.

I guess I’m surprised because, as a rule, I don’t complain about the refs for three reasons:

First, a team can’t control what the referees are going to see or not see, call or not call. We can only hope they call the game fairly and even that we cannot control. There’s no sense in getting worked up about something you can’t control. Taxes and gas prices and all that.

Second, I think all teams are the victims of bad calls. And all teams benefit from bad calls going the other way. Refs are humans. They make mistakes. They have a lot of responsibilities and distractions to doing their jobs well. I’m watching the game more focused on my team than the other and I try to keep in perspective that perhaps I’m a little biased. Perhaps a call I think is terrible is really the right call. I don’t know that I can separate myself from my team enough to be objective. matt mcgloin

And third, I believe a team should play well enough that bad calls don’t make a difference. It’s my opinion that bad calls should mostly be ignored in favor of concentrating on playing your best, which is something you can control. See reason number one. If you are the better team, a call against you should not be much of a factor.

Except when it is. Except when bad calls are so egregious and so numerous that they cannot be ignored. Once is a mistake, twice and you’re bordering on incompetence, three times is more than coincidence. Three times makes me start considering if there is some sort of nefarious agenda.

Maybe Matt McGloin was onto something a few years ago when he said we’ll never get that call.

If I’m honest, I’ve always felt that we were the underdogs. It’s always seemed like we had to overcome obstacles that were not put in the path of other programs. Is it because Joe Paterno dared to do something different with the Grand Experiment? Is it because it was successful-- that we manage to win AND post some of the highest graduation rates in the country?

Have people always hated us because we have so much to be proud of? Does the Sandusky scandal give those people a tangible (albeit ignorant) reason for their hatred? Is it only my Penn State bias asking?

Are we the only ones who have to wonder if three (or more) blown calls are the result of a hidden vendetta?

I often struggle with these questions: why is mediocrity the rule? Why does greatness threaten others? Why are so many unwilling to work for something meaningful? Why can’t they be happy we chose a different path?

I have more questions than answers today. Here’s what I know for sure:

We have always had, and continue to have, a team of players whose hearts are their strongest muscles. Still, after all we’ve been through, I am proud to be a Nittany Lion. I’m proud to be part of this team. We never give up. We define the phrase “heart of a lion.”

I have to admit that after Saturday’s game, I actually felt like we won. I did! Did you ever expect us to come off of two loses and be competitive with Ohio State? We took them to DOUBLE OVERTIME. Sure, a definite bummer that we didn’t come out on top, for a multitude of reasons. But man-oh-mighty-lions, I can’t help be anything other than proud of this team. We are unrivaled. We are Penn State.