Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Not-So-Happy Valley

Readers of my blog, if they've checked out my "profile" (and I don't mean the photo one), know I am an alum of Penn State University and refer to myself as being a "Nittany Lioness." Long before I attended the university, I was a huge fan of Penn State football - as well as of the university in general.

I always, as long as I can remember Joe Paterno as being associated with Penn State held him up in high esteem as a very good coach of the sport of football but also, because I always believed he is a great individual in his efforts at producing a knowledgeable team - one which the players deserved the degree conferred on them after their time spent studying and playing "For the Glory."

For the past month (almost that) there has been a lot of publicity around the State College area about a brawl in which it was reported several members of the Penn State football team were not just involved but believed to have been the instigators of this fight. Yesterday, six members of the team were arraigned on charges stemming back to this incident.

In reading various articles in today's issue of the Centre Daily Times (CDT) this morning, it is a sad day indeed to read about these young men and the events that led up to these charges. If the young man who is accused of being the ringleader of this melee had felt his honor and dignity along with that of his female companion was so compromised, why didn't he stop it all right there by contacting the police and bringing charges against those who had accosted him?

Instead, he apparently put out his own form of an All-Points-Bulletin to his friends and teammates who then crashed and trashed an apartment, beating several individuals in the apartment too.

Mob rule? Sure does sound like that is what was taking place there.

Some comments I read about this chain of events include one, apparently from a Penn Stater who seems to think this is just something that should all be swept under the rug as being simply a "boys will be boys" type of episode in the lives of these young men. In essence, that writer seems to feel because of their status as Penn State football players, they are or should be, revered and allowed to do as they wish no matter who or what gets hurt, damaged, in their way.

Sorry folks, but I don't see it quite that way.

If anything, being a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team - or any team for that matter affiliated with this university - should be regarded as a position in which those individuals should not be placed by others as above the law but should put themselves as being people of honor who uphold the law and who will go to great lengths to do just that too.

Too often, those who become celebrities because of their physical prowess, because of the team's status as a TOP TEN university team, because they are often regarded then as "elite" by many fans, the media, the university and yes, maybe even the coaches at times too, they begin to believe that they are mini-gods and can and should be allowed to do whatever they wish, regardless of the consequences to the Team, the university, to bystanders, whether they be innocent bystanders or not.

I'm tired of seeing, reading about athletes - whether they be at the college level or on professional teams - and also many others who are regarded as super-stars, celebrities on stage, screen, television, the music world, etc., - having this misguided opinion of their actions and using that status then to work out little deals with the legalities that the regular, Joe-average, person would be slammed to the ground if they did the same things.

I'm sorry, but each of these individuals gets dressed the same way as the rest of us - one pant leg at a time, so to speak and status, in whatever realm, should not be taken as a means to run rough-shod over other's rights in the process.

Over the years, an event held every July in State College - the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts - has become a time regarded by many - current students and alum - as an excuse to "party-hearty" and see how much destruction can be wreaked on the community. And this has been viewed all too often by those who participate in that manner as a "rite of passage."

How does destroying others property make for an enjoyable event is one question I have for those who seem to take such pride in just that type of partying? If the tables were turned and property owners -be they business or residential - were to go to wherever these people who like to come and trash the town live and invaded their home space, breaking up their homes, would they feel violated or would they regard that too as "oh, it's just a rite of passage?"

At some point in time each of us must take responsibility for our actions. And, for those who accept the role of student athlete especially, as soon as you sign that paper, put on that uniform, wear the blue and white, you should realize there is an added responsibility that goes with that honor and that is to uphold the laws of the university and the community to the fullest. With that status of being a member of the university, yes, it does require a lot more attention to demeanor and the importance of being a leader, an upstanding member of the community and not one who is prone to using that status in the ways many have chosen to do over a long time now.

Straighten up and fly right and if those standards are too stringent for you to follow, then take your talents to some other school that will allow the type of behavior that seems to permeate too many of these individuals of late.

"WE ARE" should always be a cheer that means as an individual or as a group, is something of pride and strength from learning ways to better our society, not a means to join forces and drag it down in the process.


TomCat said...

Paterno would not have been any more pleased with this than you were.

The Shack said...

There has been a noticeable decrease in civility in our society in the past few decades. Incidents like this happen all the time but we hear about them when there are athletes or other types of celebrities involved. The vast majority of people out there seem to not care how their actions will affect others and most people, when they feel they have been wronged in some way, feel the need for immediate revenge or retaliation. No one seems to ask themselves "what would Jesus do?" anymore.