20 recs gets you bumped-Fooge
Last weekend, I braved the cold and bitter rain to take my family out for a Blue/White weekend experience. While it felt like forces were certainly working against us, I was able to have an epiphany in which I foresaw the downfall of a growing percentage of our fanbase.
It was just me, my Dad and 6 kids ages 13, 12, 10, 9, 8 and 6. (The 3 oldest are mine and the younger ones are my nieces and nephew) We stayed at Fort Bellefonte campground showing up Friday night and set up camp and spent about 4 hours trying to calm the kids down and get them to sleep. We woke them all up at 7am and introduced them to the constant drizzling rain they were going to spend the rest of the day with. Have you ever tried getting 6 kids ready that early on a Saturday - by yourself - at a campground - in 30 degree temps - in the rain - with a slight hangover?
Somehow we made it to the BJC by 8:30am to attend the Blue / White event that was set-up for that morning. This was where the misery I had been living in for the past 16 hours started to fade. We were all greeted by Penn State cheerleaders who not only somehow were awake and smiling that early in the morning, but were generous with the high-fives and happy to take pictures with all of the kids. Soon after breakfast, the Nittany Lion came out and once again we were treated to cheers and pictures and even started getting autographs – the kids just lit up. During the program we got to hear from Tim Curley & Dr.Spanier. Jeff Brooks was walking around and Ed Dechellis spoke some great words about him and how hard he was worked through the program and how that exemplified a true Penn Stater. Quentin Wright came up and thanked the Nittany Lion club for their support in helping him to achieve his dream. Joe came up with the Seniors and spent a good 15-20 minutes talking about them and what great young men they were and how they are going to prove how good they are this fall. Funniest part – All the guys are up there in suit jackets and ties except for Moye who only had a shirt & tie. Joe’s best line of the day was something to the effect of, “I should probably call Jim Tressel to see if he can find someone to sell Derek a jacket”
After the breakfast, we tailgated in the lot for awhile in our ponchos. My Dad and I had a few beers while we watched the kids play in the mud and puddles until we all started to freeze. Then we went into the highlight of the day – the autograph session with the players. I had never done this before, but I am telling you if you have kids you have got to do it at least once while they are young. They were all mesmerized and in complete awe of these guys, and every single one of them – my kids and the young men in blue and white – were just smiling and soaking in the complete fun of the experience. I couldn’t have asked for anything better, but then we went into the game. Yeah, it was lousy weather, but my kids had a blast and were dancing up and down on the bleachers and shouting at the top of their lungs. The ending highlight there was watching my 8 year old niece, who is a functional autistic, just standing on the bleachers yelling “Go Penn State” over and over and over again. I’m not sure, but it might have been a breakthrough of sorts.
At this point, I had a realization of just what this Penn State family is all about and what it means to truly be a part of it. It is something I’ve already known, but somehow the experiences of last weekend just produced a clarity I have not seen before. The young men and women who put on a Penn State uniform and represent our great university are truly something special. They are a part of something much bigger than themselves, and they step up into that role and welcome it with open arms and open hearts. They inspire hope and greatness in others.
As fans, I believe we owe them something for that -- Our respect. I have become disgusted with people who call themselves Penn State fans but only care about the stats, records and numbers our players put up. The people behind those numbers are our family, and we care about them. They put in countless, thankless hours trying to become the best student-athlete they can become. Win or Lose they are going to make true Penn State fans proud to call themselves one.
…..but they are going to win more often than not, so just stick with them.
This football team has a lot of heart.
I predict the demise of the self-loathing, hypercritical Penn State fan.