May 2, 2001

Keeping the Faith

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Ask anyone in The Sun’s sports department, and they’ll probably tell you that my cynicism for sports runs deep. Where everyone else sees an untainted struggle between good and evil, I see an abyss of corporate greed and corruption. Where everyone else sees the magic of a ninth-inning homer or the mystique of an overtime goal, I see an ungainly gamut of money, drugs and excess.

Sports today, unfortunately, isn’t what it was in years past. Today it’s saddled with all the vices that the world wants desperately to eradicate. Every time I open the sports section and read a story about domestic abuse or multi-million dollar contracts or drug overdoses is another time my love for sports is slowly eroded away.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe, it’s because I naively believed the sappy intro to ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” Maybe it’s because when I stayed up until three in the morning to watch the Czech Republic ice hockey team stun Canada and the world during the 1998 Winter Olympics, that’s what I thought sports was supposed to be all about. Maybe it’s because I still get a tingle up my spine each time I hear the national anthems played at Lynah.

Ever since I can remember following sports, I’ve had the impression that it should be detached from all the ills of society, that sport should always have a pure element that we can grasp onto when the rest of life is immoral and tarnished.

But sports has let me down. As I’ve grown older and some would say wiser, I’ve begun to notice the dark, ugly side of it.

I find it difficult to follow sports — it’s too hard on my heart and my conscience to do so. What I can only do now to salvage my love is to look for the stories between the lines. The stories I look for may not be splashed on the front page of the New York Times, but they shine a light on unadulterated side of sports. The stories that I’m about to tell you have relit the spark in me that’s been slowly flickering away.

-Although she’s legally blind, Marla Runyan hasn’t let that stop her on the track. She circles the oval thanks only to the light of the figures around her, and yet she’s become one of the leading stars of the U.S. team. After qualifying for the Sydney Olympics, she beat out several of the world’s top 1500 meter runners to make it to the final. And even though she didn’t come away with a medal, she nonetheless proved that in sports anything is possible.

-Zinedine Zidane was born in the slums of Marseille, the son Algerian immigrants. If you know anything about France, then you probably know that the French have always despised immigrants, especially from their former colonies in Africa. Now, Zidane happens to be the captain of the French World Cup champion soccer team. They call him “the President” in France, and with his grace both on and off the pitch, he’s become a symbol for equality.

-Of all the stories in sports that have captivated me and touched my heart over the years, one will most likely stick out in my mind for the remainder of my life. Every time I was able to interview men’s hockey captain Danny Powell this year, I came away with the feeling that there were still genuinely good people left on this Earth. So you can imagine how much it crushed me when I found out that his mother was extremely ill in March, and that he’d have to miss the ECAC first round playoffs so he could go back to her in Alberta. But a week later, at Lake Placid, Powell was back on the ice for Cornell’s win over Harvard. Powell wasn’t playing for money, he wasn’t playing for fame. He was just playing for the love of the game, and, for me, it was a pleasure watching him.


For the last two years, I’ve watched as columnists have filled these pages with thank you’s to their loved ones. Apparently, it’s my turn now.

-To my parents: whether or not I’ve expressed it enough these last 21 years, you’ve been my backbone, my guiding light and my conscience. Nothing that I’ve accomplished so far would exist without your support. For that I thank you. And for all the love you’ve showered on me, I am eternally grateful.

-To JV: When I decided to run for assistant sports editor, it was easily the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. You made it worth it for me. Whether we were laughing or fighting, I always have and always will consider you my older brother. You’ve taught me about sports, about desking, about life. If I have been fortunate enough to have any part of your character blended into me, I will be a better person.

-To Charles: The memories we’ve created this past year will forever be ingrained in my mind. Staying for the weekend at Wellesley. Sitting in our room at St. Lawrence, listening to you playing the guitar. And a million more, I’m sure. Sharing the assistant sports editorship was incredible. Having you become one of my closest friends in the world was priceless.

-To Amanda: At some point in the last semester, you stopped being just my assistant sports editor, and you started becoming my sister. Whenever I have a problem or a concern with my life, you’ve always lended me your ear. Whether it’s pushing you into Ferragamo or making you call me at 10 in the morning, your friendship has meant the world to me. I can’t wait to buy you that first pint of Guinness in Ireland.

-To Gary: You’ve come a long way this semester. Every quality I lack is something that you bring to the table every single day. I will forever admire your dedication and committment. I love how much you care about The Sun, about Cornell and about Ithaca. It’s amazing and inspirational. I can’t wait to see you reach your full potential next year . . . it’ll be exciting.

-To Christen: I can’t say that many people have changed my life in any significant way. But I can say that about you. Whether or not you think so, you implanted a seed of idealism in my head. Thanks to you, I may just be able to follow my heart and find the happiness that I’m looking for. If there’s one thing that you remember from our trip, remember that when we were sitting on the rocks by the beach in Newport, all our troubles seemed to just float away. I’ll be looking for that feeling for the rest of my life.

-To Gelfand: To have you as my Editor-in-Chief has been absolutely invaluable. But to have your friendship is much more important and something that will last well past The Sun.

-To Alison: I love Camp Alison. I love the six colored arrows. And, thanks to you, I love being a happy camper at The Sun. I can always count on you to put a smile on my face. You’ve kept me same and I hope I can return the favor some day.

-To Kaplan: TV room incident aside, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you this year. Dude, do you wanna do some blow?

-To Abhijit: It’s going to be one hell of a summer. And I’m just glad that you’re coming along with me for the ride. Please don’t let me go to McSorely’s too much.

-Nigro, Schroeder, and the rest of the composing room: You guys will always keep me laughing and will always keep me coming back to this place. Without you, The Sun wouldn’t be what it is today.

-To the 118th: I can’t imagine a better group to learn from than all of you. If I’m smart at all, what you’ve imparted in me will stick for the rest of my term and the rest of the life. So Aron, Salil, Nav, Nicole, Weinstein, and everyone else, thank you for everything.

-To Sharp, Thomas, Betsy, Jay and everyone else that’s come before me in the hallowed corner that is the sports department: I will put every ounce of my blood, sweat and tears into this section so that the tradition you’ve built can continue.

-To The Sun’s sports writers: I’ve told you this time and again, but you are all the heart and soul of the sports section. Without you, I am nothing. Never forget that and always strive to make this the best sports section ever.

-To all t
he coaches and players: you have made covering Cornell sports an experience that I will never forget.

-To Sri, Courtney and Andy: Thank you for putting up with me. I may not be there all the time (or at all), but when I am there, you’ve let me have one hell of a time. And always remember the 202 motto: party like a rock star!

-To Sriram, Maneesh: Next year’s going to be a blast guys. I appreciate you letting me in on it.

-To Tom, Jake, Huang and Dave: Yeah, it’s cliche, but time flies doesn’t it? Seems like just yesterday when we were hanging out in the Boro. Now we see each other like twice a year. But all that counts is that every time we do get together, it seems just like old times.

-To my readers: I hope I’ve made you laugh, weep and question this year. As a columnist, my main function is to stir up debate. I hope that I’ve done an adequate job of doing so, and I hope that by reading my pieces, you’ve picked a tiny nugget or two about life. Either way, it’s been my honor and my privilege this past year to offer to you just what I think.

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj