10 November 2011

Open Letter to Happy Valley

As someone who grew up in the Northeast, I have a number of close friends who are Penn State alumni and alumnae. Some of them were in the Blue Band, some of them played for JoePa in the eighties and early nineties. Some of them were computer engineering majors. One of them was busy seeing Janis Joplin in coffeehouses in the sixties before joining the army, so I don't know what-all else he was doing there. He might not either.

I am not going to talk about scandal. There's been enough press about that. I am not going to talk about who should or should not have been responsible, who should or should not have called police, gotten fired, been arrested, or any of that. I'm not even going to talk about who should or should not have gone to the Paterno house last night, or to his statue outside Beaver Stadium, or tipped over a news van. Because that's not germane to my point.

So what is my point? My point is this.

For me, the reputation of Pennsylvania State University has not been tarnished.

What the hell? I can hear people asking. Even some of you to whom this letter is addressed. You are hurt, you are confused, you are betrayed, you are angry, you are grieving. I get that. I don't diminish that. And I want to let you know that for me--someone who has been to four universities and counting and has never had one iota of school spirit for any of them, because that's not how I roll--for me, Penn State hasn't been tarnished.

Why is that?

Because all that bullshit in the press is not Penn State for me. That asshole Sandusky is not, and never was, Penn State. The president is not Penn State. Football, while a pretty good expression of it and thus often confusing to outsiders, is not Penn State. Not even your beloved fallen JoePa is Penn State.


Penn State.

You who have gone to school there and loved it, lived it, embraced it, learned from it, and brought it with you into your lives. You who have raised wonderful families full of so many adorable children (my god, what's with the cuteness factor on your reproduction, people?), who have served our country in the military or on police forces, have built friendships and relationships and marriages, who are about to retire from the computing industry and are just getting going in your thirties, who write songs and love your dogs and your cats and your families, who drink beer with me and run marathons with me and dealt with me through four horrifically embarrassing years of high school and still love me twenty years later, who cried at my wedding and then again at my divorce, who are out there living the best lives you know how.

You are Penn State.

And I hope the world never fucking forgets that.

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