October 8, 2002

Give Cornell Athletics Some Respect

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We’re 74th? We’re ranked 74th?

Fellow Cornellians, we’ve been shafted once again.

Now, I’m not talking about the U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings. For anyone who almost had a heart attack, I apologize. Don’t fret, Cornell’s still 14th in that magazine, although I know many of you are still complaining about that “low” ranking.

What I will moan and gripe about is the ranking Sports Illustrated bestowed upon our university in its latest edition, detailing “America’s Best Sport Colleges” of 2002. SI placed the Red 74th out of 200 Division I schools in a survey based upon the performance of varsity sports teams, participation in club and intramural sports, athletic facilities, and school spirit.

Of the Ivy League schools, Cornell was the fourth highest on the list, with Harvard topping out at 41st, followed by Princeton and Penn at 56th and 72nd, respectively. Brown came in at 92 with Yale following closely at 95, and Dartmouth placing 108th. And Columbia? Surprise, surprise. The black sheep of Ivy athletics wound up way down the list at 166.

I’ll be the first, but definitely not the last, to admit that Cornell doesn’t have the greatest college athletics program around. To put it delicately, our basketball, baseball, and football teams aren’t exactly proven winners. And, as evidenced by the early exodus of fans at the football Homecoming game and the abysmal attendance at the team’s second home contest this past Saturday, the Red doesn’t have the largest contingency of fans, either.

But hey, why dwell on the negatives when there are so many positives which easily outweigh the bad?

Sure, Cornell’s big sports teams don’t make national headlines. But make no mistake, there are plenty of successful teams in this athletic program. Men’s hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and the men’s and women’s polo teams will all be national championship contenders again this season. Meanwhile, men’s soccer, women’s cross country, wrestling, and crew are all among the top 25 in the country.

Trailing just Harvard, Cornell also offers the second most varsity sports teams of any university in the country. And hey, my friend keeps touting his brother’s Rugby club team, so I’m assuming those club sports are pretty big too. Cheap plug, I know.

In terms of school spirit, it’s hard to imagine many college venues more boisterous than Lynah Rink during a men’s hockey game. Duke’s Cameron Indoor Arena comes to mind for basketball. And of course, all of those nutty Big-10 and Big-12 fans are fanatical about their football teams, filling stadiums with over 100,000 people. Obviously, fans in Lynah are smaller in number, but in my opinion, they make up for it with spirit. The Rink and fans who occupy it, essentially gives the Red a power play all 60 minutes. I challenge you to find me another place where fans spend the entire game berating opposing players.

Maybe Cornell doesn’t deserve to be much higher on the list. But look at who’s directly ahead of the Red at No. 73. It’s Denver College.

Denver College? My thoughts exactly.

A few more selections which irked me included: Kent State (59), Northern Iowa (69), and Maine (70).

As for SI, which ranked Texas first in its rankings, what are you thinking?

I admit, the Longhorns are a pretty successful bunch when it comes to on-field performance, winning two NCAA team titles and six individual honors last year. But come on, Texas is ranked 170th out of 200 schools in graduation rate. And it’s still “America’s Best Sports College”? Maybe I’ll reconsider the Longhorns when their jocks actually go to class.

SI, please give Cornell and its Ivy brethren some credit for actually producing athletes who can get non-McDonald’s, non-Walmart jobs after graduation.

Is Cornell “America’s Best Sport College”? No way.

But better than No. 74? A resounding YES!

Archived article by Alex Ip