Keith Olbermann of ESPN is a person who has made it very clear that he is not a supporter of Penn State and the university's "culture," thanks primarily to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. This past weekend, students at Penn State University raised over $13 million for pediatric cancer. Thus, one proud alumna targeted him on Twitter with an article recapping the fundraiser's success, a fundraiser that his peer John Buccigross attended and raved about on SportsCenter the following day. Instead of echoing Buccigross' praise in response to the tweeter, Keith Olbermann started a flame war.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I for one, have many. As a Penn State alum, my opinion here is that Keith Olbermann fucked up.
First off, because he didn't click a hyperlink in a tweet.
But mainly, because he doesn't take the time to listen.
The Penn State IFC Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately known as THON, is a year-long fund raising effort that culminates in a 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting dance marathon to raise money and awareness for the Four Diamonds Fund benefitting pediatric cancer. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy project in the world and for many students attending Penn State, it has become a part of who we are and what we stand for, literally. Now, I try to explain to my non-Nittany Lion friends and co-workers what THON is like and what it means to me personally as a former captain, dancer, and committee member, and they don't get it. THON really is something you have to experience to understand. However, no matter what their opinions are of Penn State or which school they attended, everyone understands what it means when I say "For The Kids."
The hours the students and community dedicate to this incredible cause and the pain the dancers and volunteers feel in their feet is nothing compared to the hours of chemo and chronic pain these kids fighting for their lives have to endure on a daily basis. And that is why we THON (also works as a verb); to give these kids a weekend to be kids and smile and play and laugh and not have to think about being sick. Whether we raise $5 or $13 million, their smiles are all that matter and the feeling you get as a student knowing you are making a difference in the life of a child, no matter how big or small, is unexplainable.
So by all means, Mr. Olbermann, if you think Penn State students and alumni, including your co-workers Todd Blackledge, Matt Millen, Lisa Salters and countless others putting their degrees to good use over at ESPN are "pitiful," tweet it out to the world. Make your voice heard in 140 characters or less. But please, don't condemn the impact Penn State students are making on the search for a cure for pediatric cancer. Don't choose to be a privileged, demeaning troll by only responding to the tweets of supporters that include grammatical errors. Don't be a heartless monster to the kids who look forward to dancing with us year after year. And please, for the sake of whatever journalistic integrity you have left, don't be a hypocrite by questioning our reading comprehension skills when you didn't even click the link to the "fanboy" site, better known as the campus student newspaper, to read the article about what us "pitiful" Nittany Lions did for the kids and will continue to do until there is a cure.
But if none of that matters to you, which it probably won't, then the least you could do is make a donation to THON and join us in the fight against pediatric cancer. No matter what your feelings are about Penn State, I hope we can both agree that cancer sucks and no child deserves to have their life cut short because of it.
For what it's worth, ESPN has already publicly excoriated and suspended Olbermann.