We Are Penn State: The End Of Team Identity
One of the really odd things in the whole Penn State story, to me, was the way the students were trying to defend Paterno, who quite obviously failed the system.
I’m not sure I completely buy this explanation, but it is an explanation that could be a reasonable one. I thought it was interesting reading, and so I’m posting it here.
This is somewhat similar to the reaction to the rioting in Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup. Only a few hoodlums caused trouble, but the entire nation reeled in shame. Why?
Social psychologists use two terms: BIRGing and CORFing — Basking in Reflected Glory and Cutting off Reflected Failure. In the first, fans of a football team, for example, want to identify with the players’ success. Decked out in team gear, they’ll say, “We had a great win. We were awesome,” when in reality the fans had no part in the win. Cutting off Reflected Failure happens when a team makes a mistake or loses, and fans blame it on an external factor to distance themselves from the defeat. “The refs were biased. The weather’s bad.” The true blame doesn’t lie with the team.
“This is clearly a case of collective identity,” says Dr. Forsyth of the Penn State reaction. “Students leave home, leave their family and they want to identify with their school. Their school has always been a place of tradition and honor, and that has been tarnished. So when they lose that identity, they panic.”