Many of you Netflix-watchers may have noticed a new addition to the streaming service’s summer lineup in the past week or so – a show called “Last Chance U.” This show, now in its second season, follows the football season of Eastern Mississippi Community College, one of the premier junior college football programs in the country.
This season, unlike the first season, focuses heavily on character development and how certain traits can make or break players, coaches and support staff alike. Emphasis was placed on how the pressures to obtain division one scholarships can shape the daily attitudes of players, and how the pressure to create a dominant team can affect coaches.
One of the topics that captured my attention is the vast number of external pressures that junior college players face on a day-to-day basis. They take on harsh criticisms from the public, deal with analytical recruiters and demanding coaches. They must still attend classes and graduate. They still need to make friends and find time to be social.
In watching this docu-series, I reflected on our own Penn State Football team. What pressures do the players and staff face? How do they handle them on a regular basis?
These are the things we do not often think about as fans. It can be so easy to tear down one of our players after a bad game, or hate on a coach for a wrong call. And yes – to a degree, it is their jobs to do things right, to play well. No doubt. But they are all still human.
In pausing to reflect on our beloved Blue and White, I became increasingly impressed with the example Penn State Football sets. Our players are respectful, honest, and focused on their academics. Our coaches are courteous, dedicated, and kind.
While we have become accustomed to the respectfulness and honesty set forth by our team, it is not the norm. Let me repeat: our team is not the norm – in the best way possible.
So, this season, whatever happens, remember that we are privileged to support a team of such a high caliber. Be kind with your words and your criticisms – we owe it to the team that is always so complimentary of its fan base. You never fully know the pressures and stressors our team is under. It goes beyond the game, beyond the Saturdays we as fans get to enjoy and then leave behind. Penn State Football is a matter of having a future or not for so many involved in its program.
We as fans have the power to add positivity to our quality program, and continue to offer it as the first choice for so many recruits nationwide.
Are you ready for this season, Penn State? We Are!