Dear Cornell Intramural Sports Participants,
My name is Christo Eliot, and I am a Supervisor at Cornell Intramurals. You probably know me as the one in the red polo with the clipboard who explains to you that Field 3 is the one in between Fields 2 and 4 or tells you that you need your actual ID to play and that although it is obvious that you are a student at this school — “Look! I have a picture of my ID on my phone right here!” — policy is policy, and we can’t break the rules for anyone. My coworkers and I are on Jessup Fields behind RPCC Sunday through Wednesday making sure that the games get off on time and that you get some ice when the overzealous center-back on the “Donlon D4 Rules” co-rec soccer team does his best John Terry impression and slides cleats up into your ankle.
If you are wondering how the fall sports are shaping out to be (I am sure you are) “Llamas Going Bananas” are looking primed and ready for the four-peat in co-rec flag football, and one kid had a pretty incredible goal off the upper 90 in soccer last Tuesday night.
We all love our jobs. Who else gets paid to be outside and around sports? Professional athletes? Fair enough, but being under five foot until eighth grade and having supportive parents who let me do whatever I wanted wasn’t exactly the yellow-brick road towards sports stardom. There is something that I would like to say to you, though, intramural participants. Please, for the love of Ezra, calm down.
Intramural Sports is a part of Cornell Recreation Services. Recreation. Re-creation. I can’t say for sure what it is exactly we are trying to re-create on the field every Sunday through Wednesday, but given everyone’s coordination, athletic ability and just general knowledge of the game, it is neither the Super Bowl nor a World Cup Final.
I know that you were captain of your school’s junior varsity soccer team your senior year, but I promise — you are neither Neymar nor Lionel Messi. Both of those gentlemen have devoted their entire lives to the beautiful game, so I will let it slide when they take their games pretty seriously. Intramural sports, on the other hand, are supposed to be a fun outlet for all of the tension you build up during the week in school. All too often, though, the games can get a little too out of hand with over aggressive play that can turn violent. I understand that Cornell can be a trying place academically and that stress here builds up at an alarming rate, but screaming at the referees for “missing that blatant flag guarding” is hardly constructive. That ref is a five-foot zero-inch tall freshman girl. She doesn’t even know her major yet. And you are never going to look like the hero for chewing out a timid freshman girl. You are playing for a t-shirt. That’s it. I have to believe that the chances of your life’s biggest regret being that devastating loss you had in week two of your men’s rec football game junior year are pretty slim.
There have been fights in intramurals. Really?! It’s for a t-shirt. I bought a “Cornell Intramural Champion” t-shirt from 1998 at Salvation Army last year for 99 cents and was punched in the nose exactly zero times for it. (Plus the shirt designs from the late ’90’s were mega radical). What do you think Gandhi would do if he wanted one of those shirts? The smart money puts Gandhi at the thrift shop before fisticuffs.
I also would like for this letter to serve as a warning to all of the fraternities out there. The fraternity flag football title is cursed. Never trust an alliterative championship title. The past three houses to bring home the coveted intramural title have wound up getting the boot in the same year. I can’t say for certain if correlation means causation in this case, but if your house does find itself unlucky enough to bring home the hardware (some t-shirts) this fall, try to tone down your celebrations. The University is most likely watching.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of intramural participants, though, are students who are just trying to get outside for an hour or so every week and enjoy playing a game with their friends. Although sometimes the games don’t go your way, you go out of your way to thank the officials for refereeing after the final whistle blows. I think it is great when a freshman floor gets together and makes a team that plays together for the rest of their times at Cornell. I think it is great (and hilarious) when a fraternity turns all of their pledges into a group of cheerleaders for their basketball games. I think it is even better when a fraternity makes the one pledge they have from pep band bring his tuba and play throughout the game. (Yes, that actually has happened). And with all of that said, I love all of you who come out to play on the fields every week. In the corniest way possible.
P.S. We are sorry about how muddy the fields are. President Skorton still hasn’t green lit the intramural indoor sports complex.
Christo Eliot is a sophomore in the College of Engineering. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Tale of the Dingo at Midnight appears alternate Thursdays this semester.