A Letter From Far Away

Dear Penn State Fans,

You don’t know me. I’m not a student, alumni or a fan. Hell, I’ve never even been to Pennsylvania…my only experience with the state are the crazy Steelers fans that migrate to Atlanta. They don’t show your games down here much and before this tragedy, all I knew was that Joe Paterno, the winningest, was an amazing coach who was still on the sidelines and that PSU is a top tier university.

But. I love football. I watched for days as the story broke, tears streaming down my face, wondering what this meant to me. As a fan. As a mother. As an academic.

As a sociologist in training, I seek to understand the ways that institutions impact our lives.

As a football fan I seek, and find, unity in a sport that makes friends of people who otherwise have nothing in common.

I have been reading your blog, obsessed with this story and hurting for your community. I recently read a comment that made me cringe and then made me angry. Something about how the rest of the world is looking at you, that you are all somehow culpable in this horrific circumstance.

No. No and hell no. This could have been anywhere. If we’re blaming football, then we’re blaming the whole of the institution and that means the fans, too and dammit, that’s just wrong.

So, I’m here to tell you, lots of us are pulling for you, no matter our opinions on the specifics (of which I have many, but that’s really not the point.) I know what it is to be a rabid fan, to go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday, to take comfort at the hearth of cold beer and a warm grill. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I’d like to send y’all some love from down here in the ACC, from Georgia, and let you know that everyone is not looking at you with scorn, that many of us are aching for you and for football and for the victims too, because, well…it is football and for me, we are a larger community. A community of wonderful, empathetic human beings who are doing everything they can to bring some healing out of this. You hurt, we all hurt.

I’ll go back to my own site now, I hope you don’t mind my reading over here from time to time. Your coverage and commentary has been fantastic.

A lot of us know that you STILL are Penn State.

Thank you.

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