There’s this guy I know who follows me on Twitter and up until now I have found all of his tweets, at least the ones I’ve happened upon, to be insightful and profound. Of course, I’m certain that I have missed a few wherein he has commented on very sexy photos, and thrown up a photo of the beer cans stacked high from the tailgate party he might have been at, but even those tweets are fun to follow. They bridge the divide between the intelligent insightful commentary and his personal side.
This past weekend I was incredibly disappointed when I noticed a tweet he shared that was, in my opinion, expressing something that was derogatory to which I took exception. His tweet poked fun at Penn State after the university’s football team lost to Michigan. It was not that I minded that he expressed passion for his beloved Wolverines in a congratulatory tweet after the #MichVsPSU game that bothered me, but the words he chose to use.
Many of us know about the allegations that Penn State covered up horrific crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky when he was an assistant coach in Happy Valley. There’s nothing that can be done about the grave mistakes committed by some who chose not to act in a manner that might have done more to protect the victims. Perhaps all we can do is learn from the past and look to prevent something like this from ever happening again. This article is not about what happened. It’s about allowing Penn State, and in particular Penn State football, to move forward. It’s about the present players and my opinion that we should not condemn them for the sins of a man that has nothing to do with them, or the current football program.
A few years ago I was asked to review a movie about the University’s over indulgence into its football program. The movie, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, which provided a detailed account of the victimization, was titled “Happy Valley.” I found the movie of interest but also a bit one sided. It seemed to be on the side of the media, and in my opinion failed to provide a comprehensive view of the whole picture, in the same way the media might have failed to present a full story before it rushed to judgment.
When I was younger I got my first driver’s license photo taken when I was wearing my McDonald’s uniform, and underneath my uniform top if you looked closely you could see the top of my Penn State sweatshirt. I bought the sweatshirt because I love navy blue, and it matched my uniform. People used to ask me if I was a student at Penn State when they stopped at the drive-thru at McD’s. I was still in high school at that time and had no clue whether I would find myself attending college. I was too busy working so I could afford to move out of my home than I was focused on college, however, I still loved the thought of being considered a PSU student. Penn State was relatively close to my hometown, and lots of my friends have gone there. For me, college would come later, and it would be Boston not Happy Valley that would be the city of domicile of the university where I pursued my educational pursuits. Yet, I would always remember my affinity for Penn State, their colors, and think fondly of my friends who did choose to go there, especially my friend, Lynne, who is always posting photos of her PSU alum at the games. She is so true to her school.
Looking back it might seem silly but I was so attached to a sweatshirt. I loved it and I used to love when people asked me if I was a student at PSU. Those who grew up in the Northeast would probably be able to relate. PSU is special. For what it’s worth, I decided to go to the Michigan-Penn State football game a few years ago because after seeing what happened with the Jerry Sandusky scandal, I wanted to root for the comeback of the university and in particular the football team. Although I was neutral on that day, because I have a large Michigan following on Twitter, and I tend to like to see the Wolverines do well so their fans are happy, I chose not to root against Penn State. I wore white for the ‘white out’ and opted to wear my Detroit Tigers hat to show an allegiance to Michigan. Needless to say I had a lot of fun that day as I connected to both PSU and Michigan fans during the tailgates and in the stands.
Getting back to the tweet that my follower put up which was derogatory, I mentioned to him after seeing it that I was extremely disappointed. He responded by saying he had no love for the university and he was glad to see the team lose. For him, it was the cover-up, which he believes took place, that is enough to have the university and all who attend it pay dearly. He shared with me that he has seen murderers, drug addicts, robbers, drunk drivers, all sorts of criminals [in his work] but in his opinion, “Any of these crimes can be labeled a mistake and sometimes even justifiable in some way.” Although he shared that justification is only in rare circumstances. He believes the crimes at PSU were amongst the most horrific because they somehow allowed those who should be trusted, perhaps more so than any others, to prey on innocent children. His inclusion of the comment in his tweet which I took offense to was also justifiable. He apologized for having it appear on my Timeline but makes no apology otherwise. In other words, he’s standing by what he said.
I get it. I understand how horrific crimes against children are not only because of my of my education about our criminal justice system that required that I study such crimes but also because I have sat on a board in the capacity of a Child Placement Advisor. I too, have seen horrific crimes wherein the victims are so innocent and the perpetrators so very sick. Yet, what does this have to do with the current football program at Penn State? Why would you continue to perpetuate the crimes by including derogatory words about the current football program, which has nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky, or his crimes? Why not judge the team based on its merits or lack there and compliment Michigan on the win, without using words that bring up the past?