Blue-White, autograph signings

Tight end Pat Freiermuth (87) signs a hat before the Penn State Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, April 13, 2019.

In a bout of ill-conceived and ill-considered strategic thinking devoid of both strategy and thought, Penn State declared that only freshmen can attend the famed Blue-White football scrimmage.

Seniors are barred from attending the first display of the new season while their last semester draws near to official closure. For sports-minded students, the decision appears unsportsmanlike and nothing less than a slap to the face, leaving them reddish rather than blue and white.

Though we imagine a fair number of students were also left simply blue by this announcement.

To add insult to injury, the university is referring to the game not as the Blue-White match but as the vaguer "final practice of the spring" — despite the game having all the trappings of the traditional in-house match-off, and resembling it in everything but name only.

Perhaps Penn State thought that its allowance of in-person graduation ceremonies this year — after the seniors of yesteryear understandably had this festivity denied to them — satisfied the obligation owed to the class of 2021. Maybe it rightfully concluded that first-year students were dealt a Mulligan-worthy hand after they spent thousands of dollars only to stare at computer screens.

No matter the reasoning or rationale, however, the decision is neither reasonable nor rational. Penn State's obligation to both first-year and final-year students is not met by this scrimmage screwup.

Freshmen deserved a better introduction to Penn State than the one offered by Zoom, and they were denied the freshman experience in all its awkward haphazard glory. But the solution to this unfortunate circumstance is not the denial of another timeless tradition to the departing class.

Consider the muddled mathematics of the situation and its shoddiness becomes ever more apparent. If first-year students attend this final practice of the spring and are able to attend in-person football games next fall, they would technically have the ability to attend Nittany Lion games all four years.

Maybe you're more stingy with your hypotheticals and prefer not to count the scrimmage as an actual Nittany Lions experience. Even in this case, freshmen are still left with three years of Beaver Stadium brouhaha.

How many years of football fun can the class of 2021 claim? Also three. But the key difference lies here: Whereas the freshmen can look forward to another three years of Nittany Lion rampage, seniors will soon lose the ability to attend football matches as undergraduates. Their time is up. Penn State is showing them the door, but not before asking them to pay the bill.

Next time seniors enter Beaver Stadium, it will be as either alumni or graduate students.

You can push back a first chance, but you can't push back a last chance. Freshmen have the rest of their collegiate careers ahead of them. Seniors, in contrast, only have a month and a half before retirement beckons.

And if Penn State wants to please both sides of the street, it could open the stadium to freshmen and seniors alike for the scrimmage. After all, the third-most populous city in Pennsylvania can surely accommodate such a crowd.

It's not too late for Penn State to remove all salt from the wounds torn open by its pronouncement. Seniors already lost so much amid the pandemic and are slated to enter an equally sick economy.

The university should at least grant the visceral pleasure of football before seniors are tackled by the job market.

Daily Collegian Opinion Editor David Tilli can be reached at dmt45@psu.edu.

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David Tilli is the opinion editor at The Daily Collegian. He is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and labor and employment relations.