October 24, 2003

What's the Deal With Homecoming?

Print More

So, this is supposed to be some special weekend at Cornell. It’s supposed to be the weekend when all those fabulous alums come back to Ithaca, go drinking and consequently get drunk together, and reminisce about their great times on the East Hill. Everything is supposed to be special — the band should play a little bit louder, the football team should play a little bit better, and heck, Jansen’s might even serve something tastier than cube steak.

But you know what? Homecoming’s not special at all — at least it isn’t for Cornell. The student body doesn’t get into it, and only a few alums actually come home. University President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 officially came home last week with his inauguration, but even he won’t be here this weekend. I’m sure whatever he’s doing in Oregon is important business, but it does show you how much the University administration cares about this weekend.

How many of you even knew that it’s Homecoming weekend before seeing the Homecoming football supplement? It’s just not that big of a deal. Some writers in The Sun have bemoaned the relative apathy surrounding Homecoming and have urged all Cornellians to go out and support the teams. But come on, we all know that’s not going to happen and all the begging in the world won’t get people out at Schoellkopf Field, Berman Field, or Oxley Equestrian Center. At the end of the day, the loyal fans who regularly attend the sporting events will still be the only ones out there. No more, no less.

To be honest, I’m not bothered by this relative apathy at all. You see, I went to a relatively large high school in San Francisco, Calif. with a student body of over 2,500. I don’t think we ever got more than 200 fans at any of our school sporting events. I remember playing in the band at our Homecoming game during my freshman year. Our band of 70 was joined by about 20 fans. To me, the attendance of 3,000 (or so the Athletic Department claims — you make that up, right?) that go to the football games is a great turnout.

Would it be great to have more fans? Sure. Will it happen? No. We can admire Michigan’s Big House and Duke’s Cameron Crazies all we want. But Cornellians, like those kids at my high school, just aren’t hard-wired for that sort of thing.

This apathy can be traced all the way back to the day we filled out the Big Red Packet that Cornell sent to us during our senior years in high school. It can be traced to the fact that Cornell’s part of the Ivy League. When my friends decided to go to Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, and various other scholarship schools, they immediately starting thinking about getting season basketball and football tickets. When I sent in my forms, I didn’t even know Cornell had basketball and football teams. I’m sure many of you were the same way. I came here for an education, and I’ve gotten a damn good one, just like Cornell promised.

So this weekend, forget the games. Football’s playing a horrible, bottom feeder in Brown, the hockey team’s going to beat up on some minors (isn’t that illegal?), and really, it’s just too cold to go out to Berman Field to watch soccer.

Will I be at the games? Yeah, it’s my job and I get to sit in a nice, warm press box. But I won’t blame you if you don’t go. Ithaca’s just not pleasant this time of year.

So, contrary to what we at the paper and some of those diehards out there want to have happen, Homecoming will be just another weekend. Well, not exactly. If you’re cheap and want some free food and beer, head up to Schoellkopf before the game and grab some grub. After all, those tailgaters made all that food expecting alums (they should know better by now). Make someone happy and eat it. Not watching football — forgivable. Not eating that free food — now that’s a crime.

Archived article by Alex Ip