Adam Geller of the Associated Press points out that the Penn State scandal cuts to the heart of the broader State College community. "Understanding the unique role that Penn State and its hometown assigned themselves in American collegiate life," he writes, "helps make sense of, if not the tragedy, then at least the tears and the outrage it has unleashed."
Place forms a powerful piece of our personal identity. And when the soul of place is undermined, it can be devestating for those who live in a community.
As Geller smartly notes, Penn State created a unique indentity in football and beyond. It was centered around football for sure, but the team slogan of "winning with honor" permeated virtually every aspect of university and community life. That has now been shattered.
Geller quotes a local resident, Kathleen Karpov, a native of State College who grew up the "Penn State way." She said she looked forward to her retirement in a place where formerly respected members of the community like Joe Patreno are your friends, neighbors and "family."
"I think our entire town is bleeding blue and white," she told the AP, a phrase which once had a positive meaning. "Right now," she added, "it's the pain that we feel."
Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer