I thought this was it. My fifth season of writing for Lions Pride. Five seasons of struggle and hope for our Nittany lions. I thought this was finally the year. The year we’d get our next Heisman Trophy winner. Our next national championship. I thought this was it. Redemption. I really wanted it to be. This morning it feels decidedly… not.
I’m sad and I’m angry and I’m despairing. I don’t want to talk about it, dissect it. I want to despise it without questioning. Pure fist-shaking, not-fair crying, why-them-and-not-us disgust. That’s just how I want to feel as the rain pours from that usually blue and white Penn State sky.
I want to be one of those people who assuage my disappointment by proclaiming the awfulness of play calling, coaching, recruiting, execution, and all the other complaints filling the comment sections of every Penn State post. But I can’t. Maybe I can be one of those people who say it’s all good and we love you lions win or lose. But I’m not there yet. I’m in the wilderness, asking myself what good can come from this. I don’t even have a plausible, non-cliched speculation. It’s Sunday as I write this and I don’t even think the sun is supposed to come out tomorrow.
My friend from Australia inquired as to why my heart was broken. I felt silly explaining that it was a football game lost by one point. A loss that ruins our undefeated record. That dashes our number two ranking and our hopes of a national championship.
Sometimes it feels like more than a game. More than football. It feels like life. Like good versus evil. Like winning it all would finally show the country that we are Penn State. We are everything we claim to be. We are worthy. We deserve national respect.
It’s not ever going to be as easy as that. Winning a football game doesn’t prove our worth. Even if it’s a huge game with a perfect season on the line against the most despicable of opponents. And because that’s the truth, this must also be true: losing a football game doesn’t prove we’re unworthy.
It doesn’t matter what the rest of the country thinks. We stand in our truth. Winning and losing have no bearing on our truth. Even Moana knows that this does not define us. We know who we are.
So while our hearts are broken, we rise this morning with our heads held high. We’re sad but we’re confident. This season will go on. There’s no stopping next Saturday from bringing us face to face with Michigan State. Now we’ll see what our team is really made of. Now we’ll see what we can make out of our broken hearts.
“A hard-fought, well-fought, hairline-close game is as classical in sports as tragedy is in the theater. Victory is contained within defeat, and defeat is contained within victory. That’s the way it is in the best of games. What counts in sports is not the victory, but the magnificence of the struggle.” -Joe Paterno