Friday, December 28, 2007

A Sense Of Perspective

Image credit: The Pennsylvania State University

It's amazing that this lesson comes from the world of football, where so much attention is paid to a game that mostly involves large people pushing each other around in the mud, but nevertheless, it does.

My alma mater's football coach, Joe Paterno, is eighty-one years old, and has coached the team since long before I entered Penn State. He's also one of the true class acts in sports. The other day, someone at Texas A & M, whom PSU will be playing in the Alamo Bowl tomorrow, made a rather unkind remark:

SAN ANTONIO - Texas A&M apologized to Penn State after a student leader mocked Joe Paterno by telling a crowd that the 81-year-old coach needs “a casket.”

Yell leader said at Alamo rally that Penn State coach ‘on his death bed’

Paterno's response was succinct, as usual:

“I think everybody has to take things with a grain of salt,” Paterno said. “Some young guy went up there, trying to be funny. Maybe he’s accurate, I don’t know.”

Yell leader said at Alamo rally that Penn State coach ‘on his death bed’

In a week that's seen the usual craziness over a holiday that's supposed to be about charity and giving, and ended with one of the world's largest country's political leaders being assassinated, maybe we all need a reminder not to sweat the small stuff. And sometimes that perspective requires that one have a sense of humor about oneself.

Thanks, JoePa.

UPDATE (Dec. 29): As the New York Times observes, Joe Paterno had the last laugh:

[W]ith the Nittany Lions trailing by two touchdowns after the first quarter of Saturday’s Alamo Bowl, it did not appear that the Aggies would be so easily dismissed. Then Penn State scored 24 of the game’s next 27 points on the way to 24-17 victory before 66,166 fans at the Alamodome.

The victory came in the 81-year-old Paterno’s 500th game as Penn State’s coach and was his 23rd win in 34 bowl games. He is the career leader in bowl victories.

Paterno Has Last Laugh Against Texas A&M

Congratulations on number 500, Joe. Believe me, I'd be writing that even if I were an A & M fan.

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