Thursday, January 26, 2012

Until lambs become Nittany Lions

By Ernesto Alvarado

Courtesy of Jim Hermitt, The Patriot News
"One must wait until the evening, to truly see how marvelous the day is."

The Penn State experience has not been an easy one.

Another camera crew. Another van sitting outside of Old Main serving as a reminder. The endless questions that parents, friends, colleagues, and outsiders volley in hopes of gaining some insight. The TV remains off because that sick feeling never goes away when "Penn State Scandal" is uttered.
Everyone has questions but no one has answers as the firestorm engulfed all in (not so) Happy Valley. We were knocked down.

The blame game began. A community fractured with some supportive and some demanding heads to roll. The verdict of guilt was not given by a jury but by those who yelled the loudest. Have you ever noticed how the first thing that comes down during a coup are the statues? From Caesar to Iraq, the statues come down amidst the chaos. Joe Paterno was the statue, the sacrificial lamb for a stupefied administration that failed to act accordingly and had now the spotlight gleaming upon them all. Our fearless leader, was gone. Anger and disgust filled many as the manner and timing of his removal was far beneath his deserving; then the riots came. We felt betrayed. Not by the decision, but by the cowardly way it was carried out. They knocked him down.

The news vilified Joe Paterno and Penn State. We were vilified. Rumors of employers refusing to hire PSU alumni ran amok on campus and the mood was somber on a once vibrant campus. Employers grill senior students about their moral position on incidents that happened when all were in grade school. We all felt the scrutiny every time the Nittany Lion was plastered across news outlets and the crucifixion of Paterno based on outsiders' view of morality enraged us. ESPN would keep Penn State on constant rotation with updates highlighting the lack of updates on campus while other discretions were minimized (Syracuse had a similar scandal with a fraction of the coverage.) We were the students who were paying for the most horrid scandal in college sports. Penn State was knocked down.
Courtesy of the Washington Post

Then he died. Amid the lack of respect shown by a Board of Trustees that had not given half of what Paterno had, he never spoke ill of the university and took responsibility for his lack of action when lesser men would've done the opposite. The embodiment of everything a Penn Stater should be and often fails to achieve until much later in life was taken away from a scandal, from the questions, and from us. I am often at a loss for words at how a man could have had such an impact on so many people he probably never met. My friends that aren't Penn Staters will never understand the feeling of a Nittany baptism by attending their first football game. Not many people will receive the gift of witnessing or experiencing 100,000 people cheering for a common goal. Joe Paterno wasn't loved because he was an amazing football coach, he was loved because he was an amazing person. We are...because he was.

Adversity. This past year has been a difficult one for all Penn Staters. The Blue and White are a proud collection of past, present and future leaders that will forever strive to ensure that "no act of ours bring shame." These events have made this community stronger, it has given us a bond that many universities may never replicate. This was a trial by fire that has branded us with "Dear Old State," a death that has given birth to a new and stronger Penn State University. We didn't lose a hero, we gained a martyr. We aren't burdened by a scandal, we found a new cause to work for. Penn Staters this year were not a victim of circumstance but rather those in charge of moving the institution forward. We weren't unlucky to have dealt with these hardships, we are lucky for becoming stronger through them. We may have been knocked down....but we rose.

...and we will rise and rise again, until lambs become NITTANY Lions.

Courtesy of http://www.amesphotos.com

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