"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shameless Penn State Football Post

My alma mater, Penn State, ground out a win against the Buckeyes last night (sorry Carson) proving once again the immortal words of P.J. O'Rourke, "Age and guile beat youth, innocence and a bad haircut." The game of football has not passed Joepa by, as many would have had us believe a few years ago. A story I read in Friday's USA Today explains why.

After a dismal 2-7 start three years ago Joe canceled practice and held a team meeting. He read the players a famous quote. He didn't try to "connect" with the young players, over 60 years his junior in many cases, by pulling something from popular culture. No hip-hop lyrics here. Joe didn't reach into the history of his sport for inspiring words from Bear Bryant or Knute Rockne. Joe Paterno sat his team down and quoted Shakespeare's "To be or not to be..." soliloquy.

You see, Joe isn't a "new school" guy. He 's not all full of "hope" and "change" talk. He's a man schooled in the classics, who read Homer in the original Greek in high school. He knows that the classics matter, that they are classic for a reason. The is no reason on earth that a room full of college football players could not be expected to identify with a young man looking across a "sea of troubles" and wondering if it was worth carrying on.

If only our teachers and politicians had as much sense as an aged football coach. Maybe this election's debate could rise above empty platitudes and political minutia to a discussion of the core belief systems of two very different men who would be leader of the free world.

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