Penn State football has one of the strongest fan bases in college football. There’s rarely an empty seat in Beaver Stadium for a game featuring the Nittany Lions.
The fans are obviously a selling point for the program. Unfortunately, as with many other powerful fan bases, individuals can often take things too far.
While fans may feel some ownership over their favorite teams, it is completely inappropriate to express that feeling about its players, especially when it comes to how a player presents himself. This week, a Penn State fans appears to have taken things entirely too far.
In it, a “proud older graduate” of the school complains to the player about the player’s “awful hair,” referring to his dreadlocks, and goes on to rant about the “disgusting tattoos and immature antics” that have driven he and his wife away from the NFL.
This is far from the first time we’ve seen fans complain publicly about things like this, and it is never okay, but going through the effort to then send this in a letter to a college athlete is so far beyond the pale that it is hard to fathom.
You can click through to see the PSU fan’s entire letter below.
One of my teammates got this. Explain to me how this isn’t racist. pic.twitter.com/Qms1F6DEEP
— Antonio Shelton (@_groovy55) October 7, 2019
Fandom allows for criticism on a number of fronts. Discussing someone’s play on the field is generally considered in bounds (though doing so in a letter would be very aggressive).
Going in on someone’s appearance, when it has no impact on his performance or standing on or off the field, especially when there are some pretty clear racial components at play here, is magnitudes beyond what is acceptable for any fan.