It Was More Than a Game
About 15 minutes before kickoff, I stood in my usual first row amongst friends. Already teary-eyed, I saw my good friend pacing back and forth only a short distance away. That friend was Blue Band Drum Major, Ian Kenney. As he walked over to me, I could tell he was nervous, deservedly so, considering this was the biggest game of his life as well as the rest of us on hand. As I leaned over the rail to reach out my hand to shake his he firmly clutched mine with both of his hands. I said, “I love you, man.” And he responded in soft, somber tone, “I love you too.” We then stared into each other’s eyes for about five seconds; nothing else was said, nothing else mattered. Immediately after he retreated to prepare for his routine, my eyes welled up with water.
I will forever remember that moment. That emotional moment was one of many experienced. The players holding hands as they took the field, Tom Bradley introducing himself to students, the incredibly loud “We Are” chants, and the symbolic prayer circle before kick all offer moving memories. Maybe the important part of the day is that all of the heartfelt feelings were shared by the 107,903 in attendance.For one Saturday in Beaver Stadium, it wasn’t about winning or losing, it wasn’t about Joe Paterno, and it wasn’t even about football; it was about coming together as one.
Some have publicly voiced that this game shouldn’t have been played. What good would that have done? Frankly, the sense of harmony amongst athletes, students, and alumni that this athletic contest provided made it much more than a football game, it made for a national spectacle.As for the game, if you’re still upset over what the scoreboard read, don’t be. There were much more important things to be proud of yesterday. Student volunteers collected over $22,000 at Beaver Stadium, #ProudPSUforRAINN has now eclipsed the $300,000 milestone, and the team played with perseverance that we can all admire.
For the second time in an 18-hour span, I saw the Penn State community unite in a big way. On Wednesday night, I didn’t think there would be any possibility of unity this weekend. The fact that we’ve rallied around each other means that the healing process can now begin.
As the game progressed, I got a feeling that everyone was pulling for us. A team and now program that was closely criticized by the media both then and now almost pulled off a miraculous 17-0 second half comeback. Our athletes on the field represented us in a way we can all be proud of yesterday. They fought for the glory of Old State, just like I will, just like you will. Singing the Alma Mater as loud as possible with you is something I’ll always remember. In that moment, we became one and we will stay as one. Fact is, I was once embarrassed by a few students this week. But now, I’m damn proud of every single of you. On Saturday, the nation’s eyes were upon us once again. Like Friday’s vigil, we made it count. 20,000 inspired 20 million.
On Saturday, it wasn’t about about football or the anger stored up in hearts. It was about our passion for the victims and Dear Old State. Let’s keep it that way.