Thursday, November 10, 2011

No, you are not Penn State.

Being a fan of University of Michigan sports, because I graduated from that school, I am familiar with the feelings that go along with sports scandal. UM has had its share, especially in the basketball arena. There are people who have tried to excuse and apologize for the behavior that cast a dark shadow over my school. I have tried never to be one of those people.

When sports scandals damage the reputation of a great school like Penn State, students should rally in the direction of recovery and reform. Throwing stones, starting fires and screaming "We are Penn State" all night does even more harm to the University.

My good friend Bill has said many times that there is no sense of respect greater than going onto a campus. I agree. On campus, you wander into the promise of the future. You can feel the spirit of learning emanating from classrooms and diags. Nothing that happens in the secret places of the locker rooms, and no dishonor on the sports field, should be allowed to continue to damage that magical allure of university and student, teaching and learning, from adolescence to adulthood.

I have been on the campus at Penn State. It's a wonderful place. It's an exciting place. It's a great university. It was there before you arrived, or I visited. It will be there a long time after we are all gone. So, children, no! Screaming your chants mindlessly does not make you Penn State. On the contrary, it makes you less of a Nittany Lion.


Dashmann said...

Not being fortunate enough to attend a prestigeous Big 10 university, due to monetary and grade point limits, I had to "settle" for Western Michigan University as my school of choice.
Yet all the feelings expressed in the above piece, I feel whenever I am priveleged to visit my old campus. I recieved a terrific education, and had to work hard to attain my degree.
Western has served me well and I still feel pride in having attended there. It is a great part of who I am.
I, in the past ,have felt some inferiority in attending a "lesser" school than a Big 10 school.
Today, I feel validated graduating from a school where education still exceeded football as a judgement value.
But, MAC sports are gaining in importance as I speak. I hope sports never become the standard by which my beloved Western Michigan University is judged.

Bud said...

First, thanks for writing on my blog. Not many people do.
Second, you have written a very fine statement about your university, which I applaud.
Third, I hope I do not disparage your education: I hope I haven't either purposefully or accidentally done that. If I have, I apologize.

Sparty said...

Well stated, Dashmann. Western Michigan University is fortunate in having alumni such as you.

The role of athletics in those universities that are members of the "major" conferences is a complicated one. Like it or not, football and basketball teams are major contributors to the internal and external image of those universities. How to keep the athletic department in a healthy relationship with the university as a whole is something that few have successfully accomplished.

Duffy Daugherty used to say, with his Irish tongue-in-cheek, that he hoped the university was one that his football team could be proud of. Today that statement may approach the reality of too many campuses.

WNNCO said...

It may be noted that every college or university is great in that they offer education. Period!

The difference for most individuals involves the experience they have had at the school. For most students the difference between the schools would come in their choice of advanced degrees. If I were to pursue studies in heavy-ion physics I might want to choose Michigan State over University of Michigan or other schools as Michigan State has one of the best, if not the best, superconducting heavy-ion cyclotrons in the world. MBA"s...Possibly Harvard, etc.. Before those degrees good schools are good schools.

Maybe all of you "STATE" fans, when asked about their school should say "They have a great cyclotron" instead of stating that they have a great football or basketball team. there is a remote possibly that we tend to focus on the wrong thing.