Confidence has long been a subject that Coach Paterno has spoken of and one of my favorite quotes from him is this: “Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart and mind, confidence is the key to all of the locks.” One of the main topics we have been discussing over the past few months (when we aren’t bored or distracted by other implosions in the CFB world) is the outlook for the upcoming season. As this site has gone through the different position reviews it does seem like most folks are pretty optimistic that every one of them will be improved over 2010 performance. However, we haven’t really touched on the confidence of the Penn State Fanbase as a whole. A few months ago, it was mentioned on this site that The Dark Years damaged the psyche of a significant portion of our fans and many of them have yet to recover. While I’m not really sure that is true, there does seem to be a disproportionately high level of negativity that comes out whenever anything bad happens or something good falls through. Either way, it has gotten me thinking --- What is better for the team: An Optimistic or a Pessimistic fanbase?
Now, I have never been anything close to an elite college athlete. In fact, I worked full-time putting myself through PSU and did most of my lifting 12oz at a time after punching the clock at the end of the day. However, I do know that Joe says, “You have to play with supreme confidence, or else you’ll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit.” I can imagine that our football players have pretty thick skins and are able to build up their confidence levels based on skill, determination and demonstrated results in both practices and previous game situations. Over time, though, can loud enough vocal negativity from the fanbase have an impact on their performance? Can all of our doubts and fears become small chinks in their armor that accumulate over time and show up as that missing little spark of luck needed to get that extra inch or just barely tip the ball back into our hands? I think so. It’s possible that our attitudes and lack of confidence as fans can prevent the team from having the "Supreme Confidence" they need to do great things, and I don’t want to be a part of it any longer.
Yes, maybe it is just a chicken and egg argument. If the team played better and won more games, then we would be more confident in their ability to win more often. It’s also true that I spent last year believing the team had no chance to beat Alabama, Iowa or Ohio State and lo and behold they lost. They also won games I thought they would lose and lost games I thought they would win in the past. Either way, I felt no better or worse if my prediction was right. The only thing that mattered to me was the outcome of the game. So I’ve made the decision to be a more optimistic and confident fan this season and moving forward in the hopes that it may be helpful towards producing more victories. At the end of the day confidence isn’t about being right all of the time; it’s about no longer fearing to be wrong. I am not afraid anymore. If we lose, I am still going to hold my head up high and say I was confident in our squad and did my best to support them in their efforts to reach their dreams.
Surely you can go ahead and call me a delusional fan or a blue kool-aid drinker or a Joe Paterno apologist --- I don’t care. (Just stop calling me Shirley.) I can suffer those slings and arrows and take arms against a sea of troubles because I know, “When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality”. As part of the Penn State fanbase we are an extension of the team and we too can outgrow our individual doubts and fears and learn fanbase confidence in an effort to support them on their journey to immortality this year. Remember that insecurity will rent its space, but confidence will own the building and any other room it walks in. Join me in this effort. Be one of the lights our team can follow. “You’ve got to believe deep down in your heart that you are destined to do great things.” There is no team on the schedule this year that this team can’t beat!
I believe and WE ARE!