Learning To Let Go and Move On
Mark Emmert pissed off hundreds of thousands of people with the NCAA sanctions, talking about a certain “football culture” that most Penn Staters don’t even think exists. After each individual transfer from our football team, though, the culture screams louder and louder.
Hell yeah we can brag about our graduation rate. It’s nothing to take for granted. It means that our students and student-athletes know where their priorities should be, understanding that a diploma is a lot more important than any sort of trophy. Emmert seemed to ignore this point completely, and that is surely a reason to be angry.
The “football culture,” though, is something I’ve been thinking about since the day the sanctions were announced. Culture? What culture? Yeah, we like to go to games and scream obsessively and paint our faces. That, I can assure you, is nothing to be ashamed of.
The problem, I’ve noticed these past few weeks, is when the screaming stops being about pride and passion, and starts becoming about attacking those who are no longer with our program.
As an avid Penn State fan, I know that it’s a tough feeling when we see one of our own leave, in any sport, whether they graduate, get injured, or end up transferring. Sometimes it’s just sadness because you’re going to miss them. Sometimes it’s sympathy because you wish they could play, but their injury leaves them on the sidelines. Lately, though, it’s been pure anger because we feel betrayed.
We’ve got to learn to let go.
Contrary to popular belief, athletes are people too. They go to class just like anybody else. They eat, sleep, and hang out with friends just like anybody else. When people send tweets of death threats and pure hatred towards these guys transferring, you’re only enforcing that “Football Culture” upon the rest of us.
It’s tough. We’ve lost some great athletes to transfers. We’ve had commits go out of their way to show their firm stance for Penn State, and then de-commit just a week later. Let’s be real — it sucks…for now. But will these transfers really change the way you treat a football Saturday come this fall? Will it change anything you might do with your time here at Penn State? I didn’t think so. It’s just something that these people had to do.
Some of these guys transferred for reasons beyond the NCAA sanctions. Family life, financial issues, and education are all factors that people just seem to forget. Next time you think about betrayal among these guys, think about how hard it was for them to make the decision.
In a year, we aren’t going to be mad about these transfers. I wish all of them well, and hope they have successful careers, on and off the field.
In a year, we’re going to be glad that we have the guys that stayed. They’re the ones we should be putting our energy into, showing support and pride (like you would towards any Penn Stater in this difficult time), instead of wasting negative energy towards those who left. Because, in the end, it’s more important who stayed than who went.