Courtesy of USG
Undergraduate Student Government, Block “O” and Ohio State Sportsmanship Council are asking students and Buckeye fans to be respectful to Penn State football players and visitors this Saturday when the Buckeyes host the Nittany Lions in Ohio Stadium.
Last week, news broke about PSU retired defensive coach Jerry Sandusky alledgedly sexually abusing children in his home and in PSU football facilities. Despite informing former athletic director Tim Curley, former head coach Joe Paterno was fired for not telling proper authorities of his knowledge of the abuse, according to multiple media reports.
This Saturday, PSU will travel to the ‘Shoe for its first road game since Paterno was fired.
“Obviously with the events that occurred at Penn State University last week, we thought it was important that we try and share with our fans this reality that we face by hosting Penn State this weekend,” said athletic director Gene Smith during Tuesday’s weekly football press conference. “We are asking all of our Buckeye fans to continue to show sportsmanship and class this weekend as we welcome our visitors from Penn State.”
The athletic department, along with USG, Block “O” and OSSC are introducing the “Be loud, be proud, and be respectful” campaign this week to encourage students to treat PSU fans with respect.
“I want to reassure you that Ohio State is home to the best fans in the land and, as students, we will separate what will happen on the football field from the transgressions and actions of individuals,” said USG President Nick Messenger at the press conference. “Penn State students love their school just as much as we love ours. It is important to remember the victims of this tragedy, but it is also important to remember that our visitors are not people whom we should direct our anger.”
As part of the initiative, USG, Block “O” and OSSC are also asking students to change their profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter this week to a logo honoring the victims. The logo will feature a blue ribbon, the color for child abuse, on top of an outline of the state of Ohio.
“It is important that we remember this is bigger than football. And we want to be loud, be proud, and be respectful to our visitors this weekend,” said Jared Kamrass, senior counselor to the president in USG. “We respect and acknowledge the rivalry with Penn State and that it is always competitive. As students we should act in a way that Ohio State stands for.”
Messenger said he expects students to cheer loudly as usual, but to be respectful to PSU fans and players.
“We want (students) to do what they always do. Don’t chant things that are disrespectful to the situation, don’t harass other Penn State fans, or give them a hard time about what’s happening at their university,” Messenger said. “You can still root for our team to beat their team without being disrespectful to the situation.”
Tim Collins, president of Block “O,” said he expects students to be respectful and perform business as usual for Saturday’s game.
“Sportsmanship is something that happens 365 days a year and shouldn’t be left off for one game,” Collins said. “This is something that is not to be brought up. It is not to be used as ammo, and we are to cheer on the Buckeyes.”
USG, OSSC and Block “O” also created a video, featuring student athletes asking their fellow students to cheer and be respectful.
OSSC ambassadors will also be visiting PSU tailgaters and members from PRIDE, PSU’s student sportsmanship organization, welcoming them to OSU.
“We certainly appreciate the fact that individuals are reaching out to us,” said Pete Khoury, PSU Student Board of Trustees member. “The university is going through a tough time, but we stand strong and support our student athletes and our student football team.”
President Bridget Carrier from Pride, PSU’s student sportsmanship team, said she is pleased to hear that OSU is spreading the message of sportsmanship to fans. Carrier hopes that PSU fans will have the same positive experience Carrier had when she visited Ohio Stadium, and that OSU fans will respect PSU’s situation.
“The way we always talk about it that we expect all Penn Staters to welcome all fans. We would love for OSU fans to just say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and maybe not bring up the scandal,” Carrier said.
Elizabeth Pastore, a third-year in psychology, said she supports the campaign and is pleased with OSU focusing on the victims rather than football.
“The students and the athletes, they’re not a part of it, so we should be respectful toward them, even though they’ve all been caught up in this terrible thing,” Pastore said. “I think it’s a good idea to focus on the victims.”
Jennifer Fox, a third-year in criminology and political science, agreed.
“What we went through in our scandal isn’t even close to what’s happening at Penn State, but we still have to respect what’s going on at the institution,” Fox said.
Some students are concerned about how others will truly behave at the game.
Katie Haynes, a third-year in hospitality and event management, said students behaved badly during the Wisconsin game.
“I think the stadium overall will probably do it, but in the student sections, it might not matter,” Haynes said. “I read a letter that (student section) received complaints about fans, and (Wisconsin fans) felt they couldn’t bring their kids to games because of how badly the student section was acting, and I feel like that was on us at the Wisconsin game. I don’t know, I think students will be glad because they feel like we have the upper hand just because they are going through all this.”
This Saturday is the 27th meeting between the two teams with OSU leading the overall record of 13-12 (not including last year’s vacated win). This is the first meeting between the two teams without Paterno since 1966.
Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 p.m.
Dylan Lyon contributed to this story.