The makeover with Penn State football has begun, and the first change you’ll notice will be on the team's uniforms.
In a press release on the official Penn State athletics website, the university announced that every player will sport a blue ribbon to recognize and support victims of child abuse for every game on the 2012 schedule. In addition, for the first time in the 126-year history of the school, the back of each jersey will feature the player’s name.
Acting athletic director David Joyner explained the reasoning for today’s decision (via GoPSUSports.com):
The Penn State community stands with all victims of child abuse. Coach Bill O'Brien and his football team made it clear they want to support victims and bring more awareness to this issue, which affects so many.
It’s an incredibly tough position to be in, and odds are that this won’t please everybody.
It doesn’t sound like the basic color scheme of the new uniforms is going to be different. This isn’t an Oregon Ducks-like sort of change; it will be more subtle.
Head coach Bill O’Brien issued a statement that sounded as if putting the names on the back of the jersey is almost like a reward for sticking with the program (via GoPSUSports.com):
We want our fans to know and recognize these young men. They have stuck together during tough times, and I commend them for the leadership they have shown. Moving forward, I'm deeply committed to honoring Penn State's traditions, while building a bright future for our football program.
As Penn State continues to try to move on from the Joe Paterno era while still showing support for Jerry Sandusky’s child-abuse victims, it is put in a very difficult position. Longtime Penn State fans don’t want change, while others want a complete overhaul.
This is a compromise of sorts.
The overall look won’t be changing much at all, but the loyal players will get the recognition they deserve for sticking with the Nittany Lions, and the victims won’t be swept under the rug.