I, for one, am sick of hearing about the "culture" of Penn State. Especially when uttered by people who have never set foot in State College. Sick of hearing about how football is king. Sick of hearing that everyone who ever had anything to do with Penn State is bad. Sick of hearing people demean the entire institution. Sick of hearing calls to burn the place down. Forgive me for a short rant.
Penn State is NOT just football - so what is it? I can only speak for myself.
As the youngest of 4 overacheivers in a pretty small town (at the time), I was always someone's child - or someone's younger sibling. Until I got to Penn State. Then, for the first time, I was ME. Succeeding or failing on my own merits.
I made friends. I made good decisions. I made some whopping mistakes. I learned about the world. I learned a language with a different alphabet. I learned about all kinds of people who didn't exist in my (at the time) small town. I ate food I never ate. I drank my first beer! I lost a parent. I met my spouse. I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I danced for THON and I danced at Mr. C's. I went to a total of 4 football games as a student. I spent a couple thousand hours at Patee. I swam at Whipples. I ate ice cream at Meyers and the Creamery. I sat on the Wall and smoked. I ran around campus and up the bleachers at Rec to get ready to go into the service. I lived there. I laughed there. I cried there. I grew up there.
When our kids were ready to go to college, they all ended up at Penn State. Not because they had no other options, or because they felt pressured to do so, but because, in the end, nothing else measured up for them. To quote the Blind Side - "It's where my family goes. It's where we've always gone."
They wanted the experience my spouse and I had - and they got it. And every damn time we were there visiting one of them, I cried with the memory of our youth spent there.
Your story is probably similar. I want to hear it. Let's compile them and make a book.
I was recently in a very tense and far away airport in a very tense and far away country. I was waiting in line to be cleared to "enter" - in the next line over was a guy with a PSU sweatshirt. I had on a PSU ball cap. We looked at eachother. He mouthed "We Are!" to which I mouthed back "Penn State!"
Anybody who wants to talk about how Penn State is just football has evidently never met anyone from Penn State. I am sick about what happened, but I am confident we can fix it. I am sick of others defining us and I am sick of all the trash talk from people who have no idea what it is like to be part of a family.
Penn State feels like home to me.