Saturday, November 12, 2011

Observations on Penn State and JoePa

After a long emotional day I was sitting at what was always one of my favorite spots in State College. From Court's kitchen table you can look out over the deck to the Penn State campus and past it to Nittany Mountain where tonight a bright moon was rising. I was thinking about the day and the moment that bought a tear of pride to my eye. Just before the game between Penn State and Nebraska began both teams gathered in a group in the middle of the field. As the teams listened to a prayer by a Nebraska coach 110,000 people stood and looked on in utter silence. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop.

The low point of the day came early when I received a school alert text advising a bomb threat had been received but Beaver Stadium had been checked and was clear. Than we arrived for some subdued tailgating only to find state troopers patrolling the edges of the parking area on horseback. As with OWS it always seems to be the sight of the horses that elicits a feeling of dred.

As we entered the stadium an organization formed this week by a group of students and alumni, Proud to Be a Penn Stater, was accepting donations for charity at all the gates and most people I saw donated something. The group is partnered with RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, and has a goal of raising $500,000 for the charity. In three days of existence it has raised $297,000 which includes over $20,000 at todays game.

The stadium itself was an amazing and surreal sight. Blue is the color associated with child abuse prevention and today Beaver Stadium was a sea so blue it almost seemed like a night game. The blue S in the normally white stands was now inverted to white and sported a blue ribbon, even the band's flags were now blue. The blue out was a success beyond anybody's wildest dreams, organizers had hoped for maybe a quarter of the fans, it was nearly total.

"I can't tell you how proud and pleased I am, especially with the students and athletes and the character and class they displayed," interim Penn State president Robert Ericson told reporters. That may be the only statement by university official I heard this week that I fully agree with.

It was a long sad week with possibly every negative emotion you can imagine swirling around. But a week filled with anger, sadness, and disgust ended with renewed pride and hope, touched with exhaustion.

"When we stood at childhood's gate,
Shapeless in the hands of fate
Thou didst mold us, Dear old State"

From the Penn State alma mater, rather fitting given the week.

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