In the wake of the Penn State scandal, one might expect the PSU brand to be so radioactive, so steeped in controversy that even its most ardent supporters will at least think twice before buying more Penn State gear.
Yes, one might expect that. And one would be wrong to do so.
As ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reported, Penn State's merchandise royalties have dipped in the overall rankings—but only slightly:
IMG-owned Collegiate Licensing Company, which represents the interests of nearly 200 schools, has released its royalty rankings for the school year (July 2011 to June 2012) and Penn State has fallen only two spots, from 10th to 12th. While the company doesn't provide any sales numbers, the rankings represent where the schools fall in terms of getting royalties from their trademarked items being sold at retail.
Despite the negativity associated with the school's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, Penn State still generated more royalties last school year than any other Big Ten school except for Michigan.
The article goes on to state that the drop was largely due to sagging sales nationwide, whereas local purchases appeared to be largely unaffected. In other words, it's the Penn State community keeping the flag high with its merchandise sales.
And that's the way it ought to be.
The NCAA sanctions are going to be hurting Penn State for a long, long time. That's a fact, and not a matter of opinion, like whether the sanctions are appropriate or whether the Freeh report is a bunch of filthy lies or not.
Regardless of Penn State fans' individual opinions of the men named in the Freeh report or the board of trustees or anything else, if they're still fans, the school needs their continued support. This isn't about an extra sweater purchase or anything above and beyond the usual—the school just needs a continuation of the usual.
And that's what Penn State fans are giving with their purchases, evidently. It's good to see.
One last, scarcely related aside: If there's one thing Rovell is good for, it's this dispassionate, semi-creepy tone to his coverage that seems perhaps best suited for something that isn't sports. It's not scandalous or outrageous or anything, but there are just so few people who can even elicit a quote like the following:
"When JoePa (former head coach Joe Paterno) passed away we were doing really well," Moyer said. "It was our best January and February on record."
See? Factual statement, one that's even salient to the point at hand, but it's just so...unnerving. But we digress.