Penn State: Seperating Sports from Life and Our Lives from Sports

Jantz SpaldingContributor IINovember 23, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12: Penn State Nittany Lions students cheer against Nebraska Cornhuskers at Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I’m not a journalist, nor do I have any credentials that would make me such. I play fantasy sports religiously, call into syndicated radio shows and follow every sports journalist imaginable on Twitter. Realistically, I am “just a fan.” My intense passion and love for being “just a fan” has significantly contributed to a majority of the relationships that I have – in contrast, it’s hindered several. In many instances, we as “just fans”, find it difficult in separating the sport from life and the life from sports. Think about it. We let a botched snap dictate how we speak to our partner, a passed ball forces us to yell at our friends and a missed free throw…well, don’t even ask my mother. Situations that we, as “just fans”, have absolutely no control of, CONTROL our every emotion. We forget to take the sport out of life.

It’s considerably easy to forget to take the sport out of life when both are so equally similar, and in the same sense, equally gratifying. Take the similarities for instance. Both have a distinct start and end, both have objectives and obstacles and both are judged by the performance you had during the time you were given. Now, take the differences. You can’t call a time out from life, and you absolutely cannot replay what you had just done in hopes that someone sees the situation play out differently. We never forget to take the life out of sports.

I contemplated writing this to just simply go off on the University and everybody involved. I wanted to just type my anger, while spitting out the same verbiage and same exact examples that you can hear on any AM dial. But what good would that do? It is my job as THE “just fan” to dictate the difference between life and sports. How could I possibly entertain that notion when I to understand the difficulties in separating the two? How could I ever sit here, angered, wondering how absolutely NOBODY in this past decade had even CONSIDERED calling someone who could put a stop to the in humane insanity going on at Penn State University?

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12:   A Penn State fan carries a 'Say it ain't so' sign outside Beaver Stadium after the Penn State vs. Nebraska NCAA football game in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal on November 12, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Eventually the game ends. I will still wake up next to my fiancé regardless of what happened the night prior. I will still call my father, bore him with statistics, yet still end the call with an “I love you.”  As “just a fan”, both sport and life have merged. There is no distinct beginning to one and end to the other. Both are constant, both continue and both, sadly, dictate my actions. I don’t base my every decision on what time the Buckeyes are on that Saturday, but it plays a large part in it. I don’t cancel meetings at work because the Indians are playing a noon game, but I’ll be damned if I can’t check my Android. Though all of this is completely truth, there are certain instances that clearly define the separation between the two life forms that has made me into, “just a fan.”

Sadly, this wasn’t and isn’t the case at Penn State University. There was no separation between sport and life, there was no distinct beginning or end, there wasn’t any ability to call a time out, and no one ever replayed the decisions in their heads and considered whether or not it was right or wrong.

I could write for hours about how this could have been solved by one person, at any level, calling an authority figure not working for Penn State University. I could write for hours about how there should never be another mention to the number of wins Paterno has. I could write for hours showcasing my anger and emotion towards anyone involved – but what is that going to prove?

One could argue that those associated had “The University” in their minds, ultimately leading to their decisions to do nothing. Wrong. Instead of saving the lives of all of those affected by this, they let the cash-cow football program dictate how they would handle the situation. ‘

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 11: Penn State students hold candlelight vigil for abused victims in the Penn State scandal on Old Main Lawn November 11, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

They forgot to take the sport out of life.

Because of that, countless number of lives will never have the same playful nature and joy that we as “just fans” get from sports. They will never be able to enjoy that same passion that comes from catching a foul ball, that same excitement that comes from watching an end zone catch. They will never feel enraged by sports, ecstatic about sports, nervous about sports. I’d assume they would jump on the opportunity to remember to take the sport out of life. Instead, because of the horrific and unthinkable actions of one man, and the ultimate immoral and unforgivable decisions of others – most of these KIDS don’t even feel a real life.

My role, your role, OUR role – as “just fans” has always been a fickle one. But it is one that needs to be spoken for. Don’t ever take the sport out of your life, and don’t take the life out of your sports. Just remember the same boundaries that are set aside in sports play an equal part in the boundaries that are expected in life.

Don’t forget to take the sport out of life – much like the games we love, life can only be determined by the performance you show during the beginning and the end.