There’s been some intriguing speculation surrounding Penn State’s decision to stop playing Neil Diamond’s popular song, “Sweet Caroline” at Nittany Lions football games. The well-known tune is popular among stadium crowds, at weddings and among pop culture enthusiasts. So, when the university decided to axe it, some wondered if the lyrics, in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, may have been at the root of the decision.
On Monday, The Altoona Mirror originally reported the following about the musical changes that football fans may notice during the upcoming 2012 season:
The non-band-related music will feature mostly what has been part of the mix inside the stadium the past few years. And while the Boston Red Sox, Pitt football and others have elevated “Sweet Caroline” to a staple for their games, that popular PSU tradition may be interrupted or discontinued.
Some concerns by university officials about its lyrics – “touching you touching me” – and the perception of people singing along to them in light of the recent scandal have been expressed.
In an update to the original story, though, The Mirror presented the university’s response to this alleged scandal. Greg Myford, PSU associate athletic director for business relations and communications, told the outlet that none of the musical changes slated to take place at Beaver Stadium have anything to do with lyrics.
Watch Diamond perform the iconic song, below:
“Sweet Caroline” has apparently been on the chopping block during previous years as well, considering that it is played at other venues and “has no real origination at Penn State.” Due to this usage and the fact that there’s no reason for continuing to play the song (i.e. the school has no attachment to it) — at least from a school spirit or historical standpoint — Myford said that it was switched out. This is a review process that the official claims is undertaken each year.
Music, though, isn’t the only thing changing in the wake of the Sandusky controversy. Team members will no longer arrive at the stadium on game day in uniform; they will come to the school out of uniform and will arrive on campus earlier than they did previously. According to The Daily Caller, “The new measures seem to be an attempt to downplay the once-revered squad and make the entrance less of a glorified moment.”
With all of this in mind, when it comes to “Sweet Caroline,” what do you think: Manufactured controversy or denial on the part of Penn State officials? You decide.