For the 4th time in almost exactly 18 months, Penn State is making an appearance on the cover of the country’s most well known sports magazine, Sports Illustrated. The previous 3 times, the PSU has the “honor” of the main cover story, but in the latest issue, the Lions are featured as a headline above the main cover story on the Mets. What brings SI back to Happy Valley, you ask? Apparently sports are still too powerful at Penn State, at least that’s what the headline would have you believe.
I will refrain on commenting on the actual story until we can get our eyes on the content. What really baffles me is this continued infatuation with Penn State, and flip-flopping that would impress a politician. After “it” blew up in November of 2011, Joe Paterno appeared below the headline “The Failure and Shame of Penn State”. Following the EmmertBomb (trademark pending), they got really clever with “We Were Penn State”. This is where it starts to get really fun, though. Just three and a half months later, roughly on the anniversary of “it”, miraculously “We Are Still Penn State”. Quite the turnaround, eh? And now, we may be a cult again, from what I gather.
I get that Penn State sells. It’s still a polarizing topic that draws in everyone from the die hard college sports fan, to the person that can’t tell you who won last season’s national championship. Nittany Lions fans are also numerous, passionate, and dare I say, going to buy, click and read this story in huge numbers. It makes cents (Haha. I’m so clever).
This is the type of journalism that has made following so many writers and outlets borderline impossible. It’s lazy, and quite frankly, one of the reasons the narrative surrounding “it” has taken the path it has. Regardless of what substance is in the story (or isn’t), our 140 character at a time society is gong to grasp onto this headline of sports taking on too much importance at PSU, just 18 months after they were told Penn State fans are really just a bunch of zombies that put the legend and reputation of a man and program above literally everything. While in between, both publicly proclaiming the end of Penn State as we know it, and then heralding it’s comeback some 100 days later.
I may have egg on my face once the substance of the story comes out, however early indications from Bob Flounders after speaking to Jeff Nelson are that PSU is aware of the story, and (shockingly!) prepared to comment on it. Let’s hope that is the case, and that the public and media is prepared to listen to what they have to say. It would be a welcome change.
Follow VBR Lead Editor Matt de Bear on Twitter for the latest on Penn State