I am a proud graduate of Ohio University, class of 1991. OU shaped me, helped me to become the man and scholar that I am today. I still look back with great fondness at my four years there and am glad to donate what I can, when I can. It isn’t much, but I feel it is important to support an institution that I hold so dear.
Reflecting on my time at Ohio, one of the things that I embraced was the lack of sport culture. That isn’t to say I disliked sports, or didn’t attend sports. In fact, I enjoyed OU sports quite a bit. However, sports never defined us. It wasn’t who we were. Many times in my years, we went to the football games just to see the Marching 110 and then leave after half time. In short, I always felt we held sports in their proper perspective; fun, social, but not definitive. Most of my fellow alumni probably feel the same as I do in that if I wanted that culture as an undergraduate I could have easily attended that other Ohio school just an hour or so north in Columbus. I didn’t desire that. I desired a sleepy college town with a historic campus straight from central casting. Ohio University provided that and so much more. It is in this regard that I am writing now, to request that Ohio become a leader in collegiate athletics and take a stand for something greater, something far more important than sports. I am requesting that Ohio University refuse to play Pennsylvania State University in football this upcoming September.
I don’t make such a request lightly. I’m quite aware that the financial boon for OU is substantial when playing a team such as Penn State. Something greater is at stake, however. In light of the Jerry Sandusky convictions and the Freeh Report, allowing Penn State, as an institution, to continue as if this did not happen seems unbelievably wrong. It is not so much about punishment as it is about justice. Allowing Penn State football to play feels like a slap in the face not only to the victims of Sandusky, but to victims of abuse and rape everywhere. The idea of tens of thousands of people cheering on Penn State Football, the same football team that was being protected from bad publicity and scandal, hits a very wrong note. It should not continue, at least for considerable amount of time.
I know that by refusing to play Penn State, Ohio would suffer and that such an action would have a minimal effect on grounding the entire Penn State program. It would, however, send a strong message, not just to Penn State, but to the nation. It would say that as an institution, Ohio University refuses to support an organization like Penn State, an organization that covered up absolutely heinous crimes against the innocent for, at the very least, fourteen years. It would say that as an institution, Ohio University would not be party to some hollow gesture of “moving on” and “healing.” Penn State, as an institution, does not get to decide when that happens. They don’t determine when this is behind them. By refusing to take the field against Penn State in September, Ohio University would help keep this important issue at the forefront of collegiate sports and national media. It would also send the message to Penn State that the nation deems them unworthy of our pity or sympathy. They deserve to be ostracized. They deserve to be ignored. They deserve to be shamed.
So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God. Those are the words that a person sees as they depart Ohio’s campus. They are the words we, as graduates, are to embrace. If this is the benediction we are given as alumni, shouldn’t Ohio University as an institution of higher learning, live up to these words? If so, then to “better serve thy fellowmen” Ohio should stand up against the culture that allowed such horrible things to happen and refuse to take the field. Instead a day of silence where there once were cheers seems fitting. No one spoke for fourteen years let them all be quiet now. I would be extremely proud of Ohio University if as an institution you took this first, important step.
Most Sincerely Yours,