Petersen said he did not intend for the letter to have a racist message.Mr Petersen may have a point.
"Was not the intent at all," Petersen told the [Johnstown] Tribune-Democrat. "I would just like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys."
Petersen added that his letter "wasn't threatening or anything. I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we're seeing. You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys. And you do see so many who are clean cut. But the tattoos and the hair -- there are a lot of guys with hair coming down their backs and it just looks awful. And it's the same for the NFL and NBA, too."
Regardless of whether it was Petersen's intent, the Penn State football players have taken the letter as an attack on them and who they are.
Do hip-hop style and prison tattoos and idiosyncratic pronunciations of even more idiosyncratically spelled names confer any evolutionary advantages to practitioners within a culture, let alone to adopters (appropriators?) from outside? Or does possession of any or all of these elements of social (or is it cultural?) capital serve as a proxy for indicators of poor performance, of drug use, of welfare dependency? Or perhaps as markers for schools that will disillusion even the most idealistic of teachers?In sports, though, perhaps it doesn't matter.
Dial back the misguided authenticity and perhaps the human capital will gain value.
Penn State's spokesmen stand with their players.
Penn State issued a statement on Twitter: "While we don't know the source of this letter or the authenticity, obviously its content does not align with our values. We strongly condemn this message or any message of intolerance."Perhaps Penn State have more reason than many universities not to put a lot of weight on coaches attempting to present a well-scrubbed image: both successful women's basketball coach Rene Portland and legendary football coach Joe Paterno encouraged that sort of public face.
Sandy Barbour, Penn State's vice president for intercollegiate athletics, added her own tweeted statement: "I stand with our Penn State student athletes and appreciate how they represent PSU in competition, in the classroom and in the community. Their dress, tattoos, or hairstyle has no impact on my support, nor does their gender, skin color, sexuality or religion!"
Moonbattery's Dave Blount is thinking more generally. "For preferring a clean-cut look to the repulsively skeevy appearances some athletes now cultivate, Petersen has been subjected to the Two Minutes Hate." He's not wrong to raise the issue of looking skeevy and calling it authentic.