A Plea to Students
On a hot summer day in late July, Penn State senior linebacker Gerald Hodges faced a group of reporters and mustered the one sentence that will live in the hearts of Penn Staters forever: “I’m staying at Penn State because none of the other students here have the option to leave.” Well, for the rest of the Penn State student body, the next two weeks are our chance to reciprocate that type of respect for Hodges and the rest of this year’s senior class.
Penn State hosts the Indiana Hoosiers this Saturday in what is supposed to be the first day of Thanksgiving break for Penn State students. Normally, the university will close on-campus dorms the Saturday that starts break, but in an effort to keep students on campus for the weekend’s game dorms will remain open until Sunday. They will also open again next Friday, November 23 so that students can come back for the season finale against Wisconsin.
It’s understandable that students, particularly freshmen who have yet to see their family and friends since beginning their college journey, are anxious to return home. But, it’s also important to keep in mind the sacrifices that each and every member of this Penn State football team has made.
Every member of the team that stuck with Penn State in the toughest of times did so for you, as a student, to experience a football Saturday in Happy Valley for eight weeks of the fall. They didn’t have to do that. Unlike the students, these players could have gone on to any school in the country. But they didn’t. They believed in this university and what it stood for. They believed in “Success with Honor” and the meaning of a student athlete. But most importantly, they believed in the true meaning of a family and what it means to be apart of something much bigger than football.
There’s no denying that these past 12 months have been brutal for everyone connected to Penn State. At the same time, there has been a bond created between this football team and the Penn State community that is indescribable. Week in and week out there has been an electric atmosphere in Beaver Stadium that the players have noticeably fed off of. With only two games remaining for a senior class that will go down as one of the most heralded classes in Penn State history, the ball is now in the fans court to send them out in true Nittany Nation style.
The Penn State ticket office has confirmed that nearly 20,000 tickets are still unsold for the Indiana game and almost that many are still available for next weekend’s clash with the Badgers. For a team that has supplied us with one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory, this is simply unacceptable.
In all honesty, what else is there to do on a Saturday besides representing your school and fellow classmates in a time where support is as vital as ever? In a normal season, yes, it’s not rare to see a large number of students miss a football game during break. But for this season, with everything that WE, as a family, have been through, there is no reason to not come out and support this team.
As students, don’t we all remember our first White Out? Our first “Rally in the Valley”? Our first time joining the team in singing the Alma Mater after a game? Without the Mauti’s, or the Hodges’, or the McGloin’s, none of these would be possible. As football players, they sacrificed their careers for us. The least that we can do is show up for these last two games, hang out with 100,000 of our closest friends, and cheer on a team that will stick in our hearts for the remainder of our lives.
Matthew Lawrence is sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.